Food Protection Trends

Recent headlines warning of salmonella poisoning and the recall of various peanut products have once again raised our consciousness concerning foodborne illnesses and food safety. Food Protection Trends is published by the International Association for Food Protection. The scope of this journal states that it is targeted toward persons working in industry or regulatory agencies, individuals teaching in the field of food science, or anyone interested in food safety and food protection. Your JWU North Miami campus Library has electronic and print formats available from 2003 to the present.

The January, 2009 issue contains an article describing a study of several cooking shows on the Food Network. “A Content Analysis of Food Safety Measures on Television’s Food Network” by Erica Goss Irlbeck, Cindy Akers, and Mindy M. Brashears, critiques the programs by rating how well the shows conveyed common consumer food safety measures. The article points out that the Food Network is a very popular cable network (it is distributed to over 85 million households) and that over the past five years, many people have learned cooking preparation techniques by watching the programming on this network. The article also states that food safety experts believe that instances of foodborne illnesses that are contracted in the home are far more common than what is reported in the media.

Although all the shows reviewed by the researchers provided food safety information from time to time, such as washing fresh produce and proper hand washing, the conclusion is that the amount of food safety information available on the Food Network could be improved. Recognizing that time constraints prevent TV cooking show hosts from showing all food safety steps, the researchers suggested that graphics or “pop-ups” be used and food safety discussions and instructions, such as always using a meat thermometer when preparing meat, be included. Adding a section to the Food Network’s web site to educate consumers on food safety is also recommended.

If programming executives from the Food Network are aware of this research, they may be looking for different ways to present culinary arts and food safety techniques. The researchers suggest that a follow-up study be conducted in a year or two to see if any improvements in food safety practices were made on the shows they studied.

So many talk shows include a food preparation segment in the programming. What shortcuts have you noticed that could result in transmitting a foodborne illness?

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