‘Do not eat’ is not a notice you want to see right next to a delectable dish made by a celebrity chef. After your culinary hero on TV chops up an appetising selection of ingredients and mixes them in a bowl, by hand, you’re not likely to think about food safety. You may worry a bit about some of his hair falling on the dish, but you don’t mind since you’re not actually eating the food.
But if the chef served the dish to you, prepared as shown on TV, you may want to reconsider. A study finds that most celebrity chefs may need to retake food handler training courses as they are unlikely to pass food safety standards the way they work in TV kitchens.
The Kitchen of ‘Horrors’
After watching 100 cooking shows, researchers discovered that 24 different celebrity chefs used poor, unsafe food hygiene technique. Their choice of ingredients and dishes may look heavenly to you, but shockingly unsafe preparation litters this road to divine dining.
According to the research, 24% of chefs lick their fingers, and 22% touch their hair, or dirty clothes and then touch the food. Although most chefs do remind you to wash your hands as you’re handling the food, they tend to forget switching or sanitising boards when working with raw meat and vegetables. The same chopping board used on both leads to food contamination.
Every year, 41 million Australians suffer from food poisoning. Food poisoning occurs with insufficiently cooked food, when food storage allows bacteria to thrive and when bacteria spread from raw to cooked food due to unclean countertops and utensils.
TV Food is Harmful to Your Health
Perhaps more damaging than the sheer thought of eating unsafe food is the fact that celebrity chefs are role models. Whether they like it or not, the culinary artists are heroes to many home cooks, some of whom aspire to work in professional kitchens or become restaurateurs — like you.
TV chefs, like most celebrities, are influential. Consumers follow their lead. So it’s important for culinary artists to demonstrate safe food handling, and ensure that it holds equal footing with delectable dishes. Because safely prepared food is good food.