Surveys continue to mislead

 Saying that almost 1-in-5 Americans use a digital thermometer to determine whether a burger is safe to eat is as accurate as surveys that find upwards of 90 per cent of hospital employees wash their hands when they’re supposed to.

In a continuing demonstration of the futility of self-reported surveys, 19 per cent of Americans polled on behalf of the American Meat Institute say they use an instant-read thermometer to determine if beef or poultry burgers are safe to eat (160F and 165F respectively).

When some form of direct observation is used to evaluate medical handwashing rates, the numbers hover around 20 per cent – not 90 per cent. Some form of direct observation of thermometer usage would probably find a similar reduction – about 2 per cent of people actually use them.

I’m the first to praise Americans for advocating thermometer use and the first to taunt the Brits for their piping-hot-school-of-safe cooking, but self-reported surveys are a lousy indicator of what is actually going on in kitchens and cook-outs.