Sorry Gwyneth Paltrow, but it’s not all good.
According to a recent study, popular celebrity cookbooks by authors like Paltrow, Rachel Ray and Ina Garten may be feeding you bad food hygiene practices — and may increase the risk of food poisoning.
The study, which was published in the British Food Journal, reviewed nearly 1,500 recipes from 29 cookbooks that ranked in the New York Times best sellers list for food and diet books. All of the recipes included handling raw animal ingredients such as meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
“Cookbooks aren’t widely viewed as a primary source of food-safety information, but cookbook sales are strong and they’re intended to be instructional,” Ben Chapman, one of the authors of the study, in a press release. “Cookbooks tell people how to cook, so we wanted to see if cookbooks were providing any food-safety information related to cooking meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, and whether they were telling people to cook in a way that could affect the risk of contracting foodborne illness.”
Researchers found that only 8.2 per cent of the recipes included an end point temperature, of which 27 per cent gave a wrong temperature to look out for.
The researchers also tracked whether recipes perpetuated food safety myths such as cooking poultry until the juices “run clear.” A whopping 99.7 per cent of recipes gave readers “subjective indicators” to determine when a dish was done cooking instead of providing a reliable way to tell if it was cooked to a safe internal temperature. Almost half relied on cooking time as an indicator of whether a dish is cooked.
“Cooking time is particularly unreliable, because so many factors can affect how long it takes to cook something: the size of the dish being cooked, how cold it was before going into the oven, differences in cooking equipment, and so on,” says Katrina Levine, lead author of the study.
Other common indicators used in the cookbooks included references to the colour or texture of the meat, as well as vague descriptions such as “cook until done.”
Aside from the lack of reliable food-safety indicators, the study also found that some cookbooks provided potentially harmful instructions.
For example, in a roast chicken recipe from Paltrow’s “It’s All Good” cookbook, readers are told to wash and dry a chicken before cooking it — something the Food Standards Agency in the U.K. warns against as it can spread campylobacter, a potentially fatal bacteria and the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.K.
“A similar study was done 25 years ago and found similar results – so nothing has changed in the past quarter century,” Chapman says. But by talking about these new results, we’re hoping to encourage that change.”
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