The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the Year 4 report for the UK retail chicken survey which took place between August 2017 and July 2018. Samples were collected every quarter but after the first quarter only minor retailers were tested. The UK’s top nine retailers have carried out their own sampling since September 2017.
The report found that high level campylobacter contamination in UK chickens has decreased considerably, but remains high in smaller retailers, independents and butchers.
Rebecca Sudworth, Director of Policy at the Food Standards Agency, said:
“Retailers have achieved significant reductions in levels of campylobacter contamination since the retail chicken survey began in 2014. The FSA will continue to engage with industry and particularly smaller retailers, butchers and independents to build on this progress.” …
Make sure chicken is cooked thoroughly and steaming hot all the way through before serving. Cut into the thickest part of the meat and check that it is steaming hot with no pink meat and that the juices run clear.
Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer and stick it in.
“We see that celebrity chefs simply rely on time estimates in their recipes or cut through the meat to show there is no blood or pink. That doesn’t always mean the food is safe, however,” says Yaohua “Betty” Feng, an assistant professor of food science at Purdue. “That affects the behaviors of home cooks and professional cooks. If their role models aren’t using thermometers, why should they? But if chefs preparing food on television or social media would include the use of a thermometer to ensure the food is thoroughly cooked, it would have an impact on their viewers.”
Feng worked with University of California’s Christine M. Bruhn to analyze 85 studies from over two decades to understand knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with thermometer use. Despite it being considered a best practice in home and professional kitchens, thermometer use is low.
In one study, two-thirds of people reported owning a meat thermometer, but less than 20 percent used it all the time to check the temperature of chicken, and less than 10 percent used it all the time for hamburgers. About half of consumers say that thermometers aren’t necessary to check the doneness of egg or meat dishes.
Feng also noted that many people are unsure which type of thermometer to buy or how to correctly use them, including where to place the thermometer in the food, the correct endpoint temperatures, proper temperature calibration for the thermometer, and proper cleaning and sanitation. About 95 percent of people in one study did not clean their thermometers after use.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative supported this research. The results were published in the Journal of Food Protection in January 2019.
I take pride in my Birmingham and Newport, Wales roots, as well as a lot of Ontario (that’s in Canada) but the UK government’s continued insistence that food be cooked to piping hot is not only unscientific, but just stupid.
This paper sounds nice, but will have no effect.
Chapman, I never got those Comarks, and need about 100 so I can keep improving food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer at a time.
Improper cooking of meat contributes to many foodborne illnesses worldwide. The use of meat thermometers during cooking is recommended by food safety authorities in North America, but not yet in Europe. This scoping review investigated meat thermometer usage trends, consumers’ barriers and facilitators, and usage-enhancing interventions, with the aim of informing potential policy changes as necessary towards enhancing meat thermometers usage.
The study revealed that Europe is far behind North America in meat thermometer research and consumer use. The study results highlighted the increased compliance among mid-aged and higher socio-economic consumer groups. A considerable percentage of people do not use a meat thermometer, despite owning one and knowing its importance.
Barriers to meat thermometer usage among consumers included: cooking habits, non-practicality, and the influence of society and media, whereas responsibility to dependents and enhancing meat quality were strong facilitators. Intervention studies showed that knowledge gain does not necessarily translate to behavior change, unless consumers’ barriers and facilitators are addressed; hence behavioral theory-based interventions were most effective. The review concludes with recommendations for food safety authorities, starting with filling the research gap to understand consumers’ attitudes and behaviors, followed by implementation and scaling-up of evidence-based interventions, associated with cost-effectiveness studies.
Is scoping now a cool word?
Meat thermometer usage amongst European and North American consumers: A scoping review”
Sarah Elshahat, Jayne V. Woodside, Michelle C. McKinley
The testing was carried out on around 600 samples of lamb, beef, pork, and chicken of both Icelandic and foreign origin between March and December 2018. The purpose of the testing was to determine the prevalence of pathogenic micro-organisms in products when they reach the consumer, and for this reason the samples were taken from shops.
Campylobacter and salmonella were not detected in pork or chicken samples, with the exception of a single sample of pork from Spain. MAST attributes this to improved preventative measures in slaughterhouses.
MAST points to several ways consumers can reduce the risk of infection from salmonella, campylobacter, and E. coli, including cooking meat all the way through and taking care to avoid cross-contamination. Most E. coli is found on the surface of meat, and therefore is killed by frying or grilling, but when meat is ground, the bacteria is distributed throughout. Therefore, hamburgers and other types of ground meat should be cooked through.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
That famous quote, often wrongly ascribed to Albert Einstein, is believed to have originated with Narcotics Anonymous in 1981 (the same year I began university).
In addition to helping raise five daughters, providing endless relationship entertainment to the folks I played pick-up hockey with back in Guelph (that’s pre-Amy, who is playing pick-up as I write this), helping teach lots of kids how to skate, influencing lotsa students (good and bad, not much in-between), pissing off lotsa bureaucrats and industry types, publishing lots of peer-reviewed stuff that still gets cited daily and almost 15,000 barfblog.com posts, I did news.
Food Safety Network news, long before wannabes.
For 26 years I’ve done news.
And always referenced the evidence, or lack thereof.
Until others do the same, they’re just plagiarists.
I combined my background in molecular biology with some journalism experience, and I carved out a path in food safety.
The vision I always had for food safety information, all those years ago, was what I heard about daily – and often directly: How the hell was I supposed to know?
We mined the world (I used Compuserve to get access to the AP wires and others back in the days before Google, when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s MMWR would take six months to arrive by mail, when those who needed to know should have had the information as soon as possible).
I am intensely loyal to the kids, er, students, that flourished and maybe we’ll write a book; or maybe not.
I did my best, even when my best wasn’t good enough.
I still love it – I haven’t been paid in over two years — but someone else should be in charge.
I have early-onset dementia, I have other health issues, so rather than submit any more family members to, I’ve got to do news, I am going to step away while I can.
Of the 15,287 barfblog.com posts, I authored (or cut and paste) 13,070 since 2005. That’s 86 per cent, or an ice hockey goalie save percentage of .8549, which isn’t great (should be over .91) but doesn’t exactly suck, because this isn’t hockey.
It’s something different.
And time for me to do something different.
I may still write, maybe about food safety, maybe about other things, maybe about the probability of monkeys flying out of my butt.
But for now, I’ve got other priorities.
Ben can figure out what to do and what he wants to do.
It’s been an honor and a privilege to share your computer screens, maybe even your brain space, and improve food safety, one tip-sensitive digital thermometer, one less serving of raw sprouts, and one calling out of bullshit advice, at a time.
As Jimmy Buffett said on his 1978 Live album, sometimes I’m real sentimental, and sometimes I’m real trashy.
I can relate.
How many times can the UK Food Standards-thingy say cook poultry until piping hot, while Canada, the U.S. and now even Australia – apparently the most monarch-frenzied country in the world according to early-morning talk-fests – say, use a fucking thermometer.
Stick it in and use a fucking thermometer.
And now, research from the U.S. says that changes in lighting conditions to promote energy conservation may induce folks to eat undercooked turkey, please, pay homage to my late, great food safety pioneer Pete Snyder (and pardon my Minnesotan, but am married to one and she swears like a drunken sailor, after living with me for 13 years) and use a fucking thermometer.
Changes in Lighting Source Can Produce Inaccurate Assessment of Visual Poultry Doneness and Induce Consumers To Eat Undercooked Ground Turkey Patties
Undercooked poultry is a potential source of foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella and Campylobacter. The best way to avoid eating undercooked poultry is to use a food thermometer during cooking. However, consumers who cook poultry often use visual appearance for determining doneness, which relies on extrinsic factors, including lighting conditions. Because the United States recently mandated changes in lighting to promote energy conservation, this study evaluated the effect of lighting sources on consumer perceptions of doneness and willingness to eat cooked poultry patties. Consumers (n = 104) evaluated validated photographs of turkey patties cooked to different end point temperatures (57 to 79°C) and rated the level of perceived doneness and willingness to eat each sample. Evaluations were conducted under different lighting sources: incandescent (60 W, soft white), halogen (43 W, soft white), compact fluorescent lamp (13 W, soft white), light-emitting diode (LED; 10.5 W, soft white), and daylight LED (14 W). Lighting changed perception of doneness and willingness to eat the patties, with some of the energy-efficient options, such as LED and halogen making samples appear more done than they actually were, increasing the willingness to eat undercooked samples. This poses a risk of consuming meat that could contain bacteria not killed by heat treatment. Recent changes in lighting regulations can affect lighting in homes that affects perceptions of poultry doneness, requiring that educators place extra emphasis on the message that properly using a meat thermometer is the only way to ensure meat is cooked to a safe end point temperature.
Providing consumers with recommendations on specific food safety practices may be a cost-effective policy option, acting either as a complement to or substitute for additional food safety regulations on food suppliers, but it would require a detailed understanding of consumer food safety practices.
Using data from the 2014 to 2016 American Time Use Survey–Eating and Health Module, we examine two food safety practices in which Government health and safety officials, as well as the broader food safety community, have offered unequivocal advice: meal preparers should always use a thermometer to verify that meat has reached a recommended temperature and consumers should avoid raw (unpasteurized) milk.
We found that 2 percent of at-home meal preparers in the United States served raw milk during a typical week; of which 80 percent lived with two or more people, 44 percent were married, 36 percent lived with one or more children, and 28 percent lived with at least one person age 62 or older, indicating the potential that at-risk populations are consuming raw milk.
While preparing meals with meat, poultry, or seafood, 14 percent of at-home meal preparers in the United States used a food thermometer. Meal preparers who use a food thermometer typically earned more, reported better physical health, were more likely to exercise, were more likely married, and had larger and younger households. Last, rates of food thermometer usage were higher for at-home meal preparers whose occupation was food-preparation related, suggesting food safety training or awareness at work may influence food safety behavior at home.
Consumer Food Safety Practices: Raw Milk Consumption and Food Thermometer Use
Rhodes, Taylor M., Fred Kuchler, Ket McClelland, and Karen S. Hamrick.
EIB-205, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, January 2019.
Temperature control prevents the rapid growth of foodborne pathogens during food storage and assures adequate heating to destroy pathogens prior to consumption. The use of thermometers is a recognized best practice among consumer and food worker guidelines; however, compliance with this recommendation is quite low.
Eighty-five studies from the past 21 years were reviewed and an analyzed for the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors associated with thermometer use and the motivators and barriers to cooking and refrigerator thermometer use among consumers and food workers. Barriers to thermometer were categorized into two major groups: ‘‘the belief that a thermometer is not necessary’’ and ‘‘the difficulty of selecting and using a thermometer.’’ Each group has its unique aspects. Four barriers were recognized in the ‘‘not necessary’’ group: (i) preference for alternative techniques, (ii) mainstream media and food professionals seldom serve as role models and often negate the need for food thermometers, (iii) limited awareness of potential health issues associated with current practices, and (iv) limited knowledge and awareness related to thermometer usage for specific food groups.
Six barriers were recognized in the ‘‘difficult to select and use’’ group: (i) difficulties in selecting the type of food thermometers, (ii) availability of food thermometers, (iii) lack of skills related to the usage of food thermometers, (iv) limited knowledge related to endpoint temperatures, (v) inability to calibrate food thermometers, and (vi) lack of knowledge about food thermometer cleaning and sanitation. These findings will facilitate the development and adoption of effective strategies to increase thermometer use and increase food safety education efficacy with a positive impact on public health.
Motivators and barriers to cooking and refrigerator thermometer use among consumers and food workers: A review.
Journal of Food Protection vol. 82 noi. 1 pg. 128-150
I like hamburgers, not enough to eat an average of one a day though. According to the Los Angeles Times, that’s what restaurant investor Lawrence Longo did in 2018. Added difficulty, he did it at 365 different restaurants.
When asked to describe the perfect burger Longo responded:
Not too much going on. Bun-cheese-meat-bun. If you have the right meat, the right bun, the right ratio, you don’t need any ingredients on that burger. The juices on that burger are all you really need.
I’d add that it was cooked to 160F and verified with a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.