An unfortunate but true fact—celebrity chefs tend to have poor food safety practices. Whether it’s because of the casual atmosphere of a TV show or the notoriety of their name, celebrity chefs can be found disregarding many of the food safety best practices that were designed to keep the people they serve safe.
A study by the Journal of Public Health reported that out of 100 cooking shows, 23% of the monitored chefs licked their fingers, while 20% touched their hair or a non-food item and then touched food again. These are just a few examples of some of the less than ideal food safety practices that celebrity chefs demonstrate every day.
While on a TV show, these food safety practices may not be a big deal, but in a restaurant or any place where the public consumes food, they definitely are. That’s why it’s essential for celebrity chefs to lead by example. Below, we will dive into some of the most common food handling mistakes the celebrity chefs made in the Journal of Public Health’s report and how food handlers can avoid these mistakes.
Mistake #1: Tasting Food with the Same Spoon
Of course, you want to taste your food as you go. After all, how are you supposed to determine if the soup needs more salt or if your sauce is spicy enough? However, there is a proper way to go about tasting your food while still ensuring your kitchen is up to health code standards.
The best way to taste your food is by using a clean spoon or appropriate utensil each time you go for a taste. That being said, make sure to use a clean spoon every time you sample the food; you cannot use the same utensil over and over again.
Mistake #2: Using the Same Tools Between Foods
Although it should go without saying, cross-contamination between foods is one of the leading causes of food poisoning. And you should avoid this at all costs. You should store raw meats, poultry, and pork separately from each other and store raw meats apart from cooked food.
You also need to use separate cutting boards, knives, and other cooking utensils when moving from raw to cooked meats or when going in between raw meats and vegetables. To summarize, every time you’re handling raw meat you need to sanitize or replace the tools you used.
Mistake #3: Not Washing Their Hands!
Hand washing should be the number one rule in every kitchen! Not only should you wash your hands prior to doing any cooking, but you should also keep doing it the entire time you’re cooking. Of course, you need to wash your hands (with soap, not just a quick rinse) after touching raw meat and after leaving the kitchen. This includes moving from the kitchen to the front of the house, and definitely after going into the restroom (even if it’s just to grab something).
Personal sanitation also includes personal hygiene. When you’re cooking, don’t touch your face or hair unless you plan on washing your hands afterward. You also need to keep your hair, including any facial hair, covered with hats and hairnets. Nails should be kept short, and if you have any cuts or scrapes on your skin, they should be appropriately covered.
Mistake #4: Not Using Gloves
While gloves are frequently used in the kitchen as an additional sanitation measure, for whatever reason, we rarely see them on our favorite cooking shows. And the biggest issue health inspectors see with gloves is that food handlers are not changing them.
You can’t go from the register to the kitchen with the same pair of gloves on. Additionally, you need to change your gloves when moving between raw meats and cooked meats as well as when moving onto cooking with non-meats.
It’s important to note that gloves are not a replacement for washing your hands. While gloves may cover the majority of hands, wrists are often left exposed and can easily be contaminated. Even with the lack of contaminants, bare skin on the wrists can transfer germs onto the food you’re cooking.
Mistake #5: Not Using Food Thermometers
Although celebrity chefs are certainly experts in their field, nobody is perfect at guessing or assuming the temperature of cooked meat. While red meat doesn’t need to be monitored as closely, poultry and pork have strict internal temperature requirements to prevent foodborne illness.
With the presence of salmonella and other bacteria in raw meats, you have to cook meat properly to keep your customers safe. And food thermometers are the solution. They should always be used before serving food to ensure the internal temperature of the meat is hot enough to kill any bacteria. Not only will you need to check the temperature of the food right after cooking it, but you should double-check it before serving if the food has been sitting.
Learn More About Food Safety Best Practices
While this blog post has covered an introduction to food safety best practices, it is certainly not all-inclusive. For more in-depth information, and to meet your state’s food handler regulations, sign up for our Food Handler Training Course today!