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    Monday, 12 December 2016

    Embedded Safety: Recipe Reminders Reduce Illness

    A study carried out at Kansas State University (KSU) found that reminding cooks of good hygiene practices and instructions to properly use kitchen devices in the middle of a recipe leads to safer food handling. In the study, published in the Journal of Food Protection embedded reminders touted hand-washing and meat thermometer use.

    Several knowledgeable individuals participated in this study, namely Delores Chambers, center co-director and professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health; Edgar Chambers IV, center co-director and university distinguished professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health; and Kadri Koppel, assistant professor of food, nutrition, dietetics and health. KSU’s Sensory Analysis Center researchers collaborated with other institutions for this study, including Tennessee State University and RTI International in North Carolina. 

    Researchers observed 75 people cooking from recipes with no food safety instructions. A separate group of 75 cooked following recipes with embedded safety instructions. The dishes: a parmesan chicken breast and a turkey patty with mushroom sauce. Both recipes required the interim chefs to handle raw meat, eggs, and fresh produce while watchful observers documented how frequently participants washed their hands or used a thermometer.

    • Meat thermometer use in home cooking: 25%
    • Use with embedded reminder: 85%
    • Hand-washing prevalence while cooking: 40-50%
    • Use with embedded reminder: 70-80%

    Edgar Chambers IV, co-director of KSU’s Sensory Analysis Center, stands firmly behind the findings: “This is such an easy thing to do: Just add the information to the recipe and people follow it. It’s a simple way to reduce foodborne illness and we can actually reduce health care costs by simply adding information to recipes. It’s a great finding and a great piece of information for the promotion of food safety information.”

    Collaborative food scientists involved in the study presented these results to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In the future, Chambers said that the USDA plans to integrate food safety instructions into recipes it develops.

    Though the collaborative study is newly-published, it has been in the making for four-years, backed by a $2.5 million USDA grant. The first three years were dedicated to information-gathering and observation, studying consumer shopping and cooking behaviours. Having done that, the last year will be dedicated to working with the Partnership for Food Safety Education in Washington, D.C. to develop a nationwide food safety campaign. The goal for those invested in the project is “to educate consumers, manufacturers, grocers, journalists, magazines and publishers on the importance of food safety instructions in published recipes,” according to K-State News

    Chambers chimed in once again, “We want to provide research-based information for consumers. The goal is to promote safe behaviors so that people actually begin to do them every day in the kitchen as a part of their shopping behavior.”

    Now that the study is in its final year, it has moved into the project stage, focusing on injecting reminders from different areas:
    • Food safety with poultry and eggs
    • Meat thermometer usage
    • Frequent hand-washing
    • Proper storage of meat (in plastic bags provided by grocery store)

    The researchers are not ones to rest easy after a job well done. Studying the effect LED lights and energy-efficient bulbs have on the appearance of meat, the team of researchers is has released another study. Published in the Journal of Sensory Studies, the new research shows that “changing to more modern lighting in kitchens makes people believe their meat patties are done sooner than they would be under old lighting, which is wrong. That is not good news for consumers unless they are using a meat thermometer,” said Chambers. 

    Jacqui Litvan

    Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor's degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).
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