Make Food Safety Go Viral

This pandemic has really changed how people teach and learn. I've noticed a rise in cooking videos and live demonstrations of recipes/cooking tools practically everywhere I look. Now, this is something that interests me, so I watch a lot of them, and as I do, I’m constantly disappointed in the lack of food safety information presented or demonstrated.

This is the opportune time to offer “teachable moments” about food safety, and it's passing them by! 

These newcomers to virtual demonstrations aren’t the only ones missing the boat. Celebrity chefs aren’t known for their food safety either. There have been several research studies over the years that have explored this topic, and the overall conclusions were that little attention is given to food safety during television shows. 

We’ve offered food safety tips for live food demonstrations in the past and these are just as appropriate for these virtual classes, too.  People mimic each other and will learn healthful techniques if you talk about and practice food safety while you give your demonstration

Here are common problems that I've seen in all these videos and clips (and of course I've also included how you might solve them): 

  • No handwashing This should be obvious after the year we've had! Wash your hands before you begin and after touching raw meat, fish, or poultry. Don’t just wipe them on a cloth — yuck — where has that cloth been?
  • Pay attention to your appearance. Are you wearing an apron? Avoid long sleeves that can drag in the food. Lose big rings, bracelets, and earrings. If you have long or fly-away-hair, pull it back. This will help keep you from unknowingly touching it.
  • Be careful when tasting. Use a tasting bowl. Or at least don’t eat over the pot. Do not double dip with the tasting spoon. And please please please don’t lick your fingers.
  • Use a food thermometer and talk about where to put it into the food and the appropriate temperature that food should reach.  

Tell your viewers “why” you take food safety seriously and show them how. We have the opportunity to model and teach good food safety practices to those watching…don’t miss the chance.

By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, MS, Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University

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