From the duh files: Here’s why consumers don’t use thermometers when cooking

I told Amy when I die and my brain is carved up in Sydney, my epitaph should be, improving food safety, one thermometer at a time.

I still feel naked when cooking without a thermometer.

According to a study conducted by researchers at Purdue University, few people use thermometers when they cook—even if they know how. 

One of the major reasons that consumers don’t use thermometers, researchers found, is because they tend to draw inspiration from outside sources—celebrity chefs, cookbook authors, magazines, restaurant managers, and food blogs. These outlets rarely ever mention or demonstrate the importance of cooking food to proper temperatures.

“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.

Piping hot is stupid cooking advice, that only the Brits could have come up with

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”

Dec.19

Food Control

Sarah Elshahat, Jayne V. Woodside, Michelle C. McKinley

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0956713519302737

E. coli found in Icelandic meat

Keeping with all things Icelandic, E. coli was found in 30% of lamb samples and 11.5% of beef samples in a test carried out by the Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST). The particular strain discovered is known as STEC, or shiga-toxin producing E. coli. This is the first time lamb and beef have been screened for STEC in Iceland.

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.

But what does that mean?

Use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer.

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 196 sick from E. coli O103 linked to ground beef

The U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports several states, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service are investigating a multistate outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O103 infections linked to ground beef.

Ill people in this outbreak ate ground beef from many sources. Some ground beef has been recalled, but more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may still be on the market or in freezers.

Restaurants, retailers, and institutions should not sell or serve the following recalled ground beef products because they may be contaminated with E. coli O103 and could make people sick:

Grant Park Packing in Franklin Park, Ill., recalled 53,200 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 24, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in 40-lb. bulk cardboard boxes of “North Star Imports & Sales, LLC. 100% GROUND BEEF BULK 80% LEAN/ 20% FAT” marked “FOR INSTITUTIONAL USE ONLY” with lot code GP.1051.18 and pack dates 10/30/2018, 10/31/2018, and 11/01/2018.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 21781” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the boxes.

K2D Foods, doing business as Colorado Premium Foods, in Carrollton, Ga., recalledexternal icon approximately 113,424 pounds of raw ground beef products on April 23, 2019.

Recalled products were sold in two 24-lb. vacuum-packed packages in cardboard boxes containing raw “GROUND BEEF PUCK” with “Use Thru” dates of 4/14/19, 4/17/19, 4/20/19, 4/23/19, 4/28/19, and 4/30/19.

Recalled products are labeled with establishment number “EST. 51308” inside the USDA mark of inspection.

Investigators continue to trace other sources for ground beef eaten by ill people in this outbreak, and more product contaminated with E. coli O103 may be recalled.

Cook ground beef hamburgers and mixtures such as meatloaf to an internal temperature of 160°F. Use a food thermometer to make sure the meat has reached a safe internal temperature. You can’t tell whether meat is safely cooked by looking at it.

For hamburgers, insert thermometer through the side of the patty until it reaches the middle.

(Piping hot doesn’t cut it, UK).

3 dead, 92 hospitalized, 555 sick from raw chicken thingies in Canada

In 2005, after Chapman was afraid he’d be eaten by bears in Prince George, BC (that’s in Canada) we met with Phebus at a pub in beautiful Manhattan, Kansas, and crafted a research project idea to see how people actually cooked raw chicken thingies (maybe it was 2006, my memory is shit).

The American Meat Institute funded it, we wrote a paper (which was not our best writing), but seems sort of apt now that 555 Canadians have been laboratory confirmed with Salmonella from raw frozen chicken thingies.

Jordyn Posluns of Narcity reports:

The Public Health Agency of Canada indicated that of those affected by the salmonella outbreaks, 92 individuals were hospitalized.  Three people have also died in connection to the outbreaks.

Like many infections, salmonella doesn’t discriminate those infected by the contaminated chicken products were Canadians of a wide range of ages and of different genders.

Direct video observation of adults and tweens cooking raw frozen chicken thingies

01.nov.09

British Food Journal, Vol 111, Issue 9, p 915-929

Sarah DeDonder, Casey J. Jacob, Brae V. Surgeoner, Benjamin Chapman, Randall Phebus, Douglas A. Powell

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/Insight/viewContentItem.do;jsessionid=6146E6AFABCC349C376B7E55A3866D4A?contentType=Article&contentId=1811820

The purpose of the present study was to observe the preparation practices of both adult and young consumers using frozen, uncooked, breaded chicken products, which were previously involved in outbreaks linked to consumer mishandling. The study also sought to observe behaviors of adolescents as home food preparers. Finally, the study aimed to compare food handler behaviors with those prescribed on product labels.

Design/methodology/approach – The study sought, through video observation and self-report surveys, to determine if differences exist between consumers’ intent and actual behavior.

Findings – A survey study of consumer reactions to safe food-handling labels on raw meat and poultry products suggested that instructions for safe handling found on labels had only limited influence on consumer practices. The labels studied by these researchers were found on the packaging of chicken products examined in the current study alongside step-by-step cooking instructions. Observational techniques, as mentioned above, provide a different perception of consumer behaviors. Originality/value – This paper finds areas that have not been studied in previous observational research and is an excellent addition to existing literature.

 

Stick it in and use a thermometer

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

Journal of Food Protection, March 2019, Volume 82, Number 3, pages 528-534, https://doi.org/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-392

Curtis Maughan, Edgar Chamber IV, et al

https://jfoodprotection.org/doi/full/10.4315/0362-028X.JFP-18-392

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.

Just cook it doesn’t cut it: 6-year-old in France dies from E. coli

(Thanks to our French colleague, Albert, who forwarded this)

Matthew, a child “full of life, very intelligent despite his disability ” according to his mother, Angélique Gervraud, died February 22, 2019 at the Children’s Hospital of Bordeaux. He had been sick for more than a month after eating an undercooked burger at the beginning of January 2019 says his mom in a forum posted on his Facebook page.

It’s probably poorly cooked mince that has contaminated Matthew, his mom is sure. “Matthew only ate that,” she explains. Matthew developed haemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) usually linked to shiga-toxin producing E. coli.

And because food safety is simple – that’s sarcasm, which the French may not get —  the transmission of the disease can be avoided by simple actions, which advises the site Public Health France:

  • Cook meat thoroughly and especially minced meat at over 65 ° C(The Ministry of Health published a note to the attention of the professionals of the collective catering from February 2007, with the appearance of the first cases)
  • Avoid giving raw lai, and cheeses made from raw milk to young children. Prefer baked or pasteurized pressed cheese
  • Always wash your hands before cooking
  • Keep cooked and raw foods separately
  • Consume quickly and well warmed leftover food.
  • Do not give untreated water to children or the elderly.

In 2017, 164 cases of HUS were reported in children under 15 years of age. There are a hundred in France in general every year.

MasterChef sucks at food safety

I blame celebrity cooking shows like MasterChef for the stupid things people do in their kitchens.

Raw egg aioli and mayo is bad enough, and leads to monthly outbreaks of Salmonella across Australia, but to decide that color is a reliable indicator of safety in chicken is stupid beyond belief.

Forget piping hot, forget color, get a thermometer.

I know food safety is 1% of the food discussion, while food porn is the other 99%, but this is just bad advice.

Our job is to provide people with evidence-based info and let them decide.

These people are preaching like a Baptist church.

According to Jamie Downham of The Sun, celebrity chef John, 55, revealed the pink uncooked flesh – which can deliver a devastating dose of salmonella – gagging: “Oh. Can’t eat that.”

Gregg and John were not impressed by Ottilie’s uncooked chicken

Undercooked chicken is often rife with foodborne illnesses that can leave people throwing up and confined to their beds for up to a week.

Viewers quickly dubbed the dish “chicken a la salmonella”, with John telling marketing manager Ottilie: “I think you’ve got to know when to stop. It’s all over the place.”

No where did the story mention using a fucking thermometer to ensure safety.

And these people are making meals for your kids, and they have no clue.

Use a thermometer, raw is risky: Large number of US consumers ignore advice

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.

https://www.ers.usda.gov/webdocs/publications/91110/eib-205.pdf?v=675.4

Thermometers may help: Caterers in China are reportedly using AI to spot unhygienic cooks

Thepaper.cn (via the South China Morning Post) reports that local authorities in eastern China have tapped artificial intelligence (AI) to clamp down on unsanitary cooks in kitchens — and to reward those who adhere to best practices.

According to the report, a camera-based system currently being piloted in the Zhejiang city of Shaoxing automatically recognizes “poor [sanitation] habits” and alerts managers to offending workers via a mobile app. It’s reportedly the fruit of a six-year project — Sunshine Kitchen — that seeks to bring transparency to food preparation in catering, hotels, school cafeterias, and restaurants.

Zhou Feng, director of the Food Service Supervision Department in Shaoxing, told Thepaper.cn that the system can identify 18 different “risk management” areas, including smoking and using a smartphone. On the flip side, it recognizes four positive habits, like disinfecting surfaces and hand washing, and monitors kitchen conditions that might impact food safety, such as temperature and humidity.

So far, the local Xianheng Hotel and over 87 catering companies are said to have trialed the system, and authorities reportedly plan to expand the number to over 1,000 this year.

It’s not the first time AI has been applied to food safety.

In November 2018, a study led by researchers at Google and Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health described a machine learning model — FINDER (Foodborne IllNess DEtector in Real time) — that leveraged search and location data to highlight “potentially unsafe” restaurants. FINDER took in anonymous logs from users who opted to share their location data, and it identified search queries indicative of food poisoning (e.g., “how to relieve stomach pain”) while looking up restaurants visited by the users who performed those searches.

In the end, FINDER not only outperformed complaint-based inspections and routine inspections concerning precision, scale, and latency (the time that passed between people becoming sick and the outbreak being identified), it managed to better attribute the location of foodborne illness to a specific venue than did customers.

San Francisco-based startup ImpactVision, meanwhile, leverages machine learning and hyperspectral imaging — a technique that combines spectroscopy and computer vision — to assess the quality of food in factories and elsewhere automatically. It’s now working with avocado distributors to replace their current systems, and with large berry distributors to potentially automate manual processes, such as counting strawberries.