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Science Briefs

Unter dieser Rubrik stellen wir wissenschaftliche Publikationen und Forschungsergebnisse aus Europa und dem Rest der Welt vor, die für EUFIC-Leser interessant sein könnten. Falls nicht anders angegeben, war EUFIC nicht an der Forschung beteiligt.

20/09/2016

Researchers from Kansas State University (USA) and Tennessee State University (USA) have found that the majority of television cooking shows featuring celebrity chefs around the world demonstrate unsafe food handling practices that can lead to cross-contamination and food poisoning. Television cooking shows with professional chefs are followed by a large audience and are perceived as entertainment sources but could potentially also be used as a powerful mass-media educational tool for teaching large numbers of viewers about safe food handling at home.


Most of the 100 cooking show episodes reviewed in the study focused on one dish at a time but some chefs prepared several dishes simultaneously – increasing the chance of cross-contamination. Handwashing is a basic principle of food hygiene, but none of the chefs were shown washing their hands before cooking. One chef verbally mentioned handwashing before beginning food preparation and half of the observed chefs mentioned handwashing after handling meat. 21 chefs out of 24 handled uncooked meat without washing their hands. Other mistakes by chefs included adding food (79%) and sampling food (38%) with their hands during or after cooking - including when food would not be cooked further. Only one third of the chefs demonstrated safe chopping board or surfaces use – others failed to wash chopping board surfaces after cutting uncooked meat or prepared uncooked meat and ready-to-eat foods on the same chopping board. Most of the chefs (96%) used the colour of the meat to visually determine if it was cooked while only six chefs (25%) used a thermometer as recommended by food safety agencies. In addition, 88% of chefs gave recommended cooking times and 58% commented on which texture would indicate the meat was cooked.


Any of these improper behaviours demonstrated on television could lead to cross-contamination and food poisoning. The study recommend that TV cooking shows include basic communication and demonstration of safe food handling practices in order to promote good food safety habits at home.


The study reviewed 100 episodes of cooking TV shows hosted by 24 different chefs among 30 unique series of cooking TV shows (e.g. Jamie at Home, Nigellissima, Gordon Ramsay’s Home Cooking) available through a variety of online sources such as Netflix or Amazon. All episodes included the preparation of at least one meat dish (e.g. beef, seafood, chicken, pork). A questionnaire based on a list of food safety behaviours, both positive and negative, was developed to support the observations while reviewing the programmes.
Previous research similarly revealed that European TV cooking shows frequently demonstrate unsafe handling of food or lack of measures to prevent food poisoning. A study from 2014 proposed that cooking shows should stick to recognized food safety standards (e.g. the five keys to safer food developed by the World Health Organization) using the opportunity to introduce simple but important food safety messages to mass audiences. [2]


Food safety is a significant public health issue. Every year, more than 23 million fall ill from food poisoning in Europe, resulting in about 5000 deaths.[3] Mishandling of food or poor safety practices at home are common causes of food poisoning.
1. Maughan C, Chambers E & Godwin S. Food Safety Behaviors Observed in Celebrity Chefs across a Variety of Programs. Journal of Public Health. Published online April 2016 DOI:10.1093/pubmed/fdw026.
2. D. Borda MR, Thomas S, Langsrud K, et al. (2014) Food safety practices in European TV cooking shows. Br. Food J. 116(10):1652-1666.
3. World Health Organization. WHO estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases. 2015.

14/07/2016

A large network of scientists from around the world have examined the trends of adult Body Mass Index (BMI) in 200 countries. They found that globally the number of obese individuals has increased from 105 million to 641 million in the last 40 years. The world has transitioned to more obese than underweight people, with the exception of some sub-Saharan and Asian regions. The authors note that, if the current obesity trends continue, there is little chance of meeting the agreed global obesity target for 2025.

18/05/2016

18th May 2016 Contaminants in vegetable oils and fats (and foods containing them such as cookies, pastries and others) pose a potential health concern to average consumers for young age groups (infants, toddlers and children under 10 years old). There is also a potential health concern for adolescents, adults and older age groups with high levels of exposure through their diet (i.e those eating larger quantities of foods containing glycidyl esters than the average population). This is the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) scientific opinion on the risks for human health related to the presence of 3- and 2-MCPD and their esters and glycidyl esters in food, presented in a report released on 3rd May 2016.

29/03/2016

A balanced diet is important for people’s health and health claims are designed to help consumers’ choose healthy food. The question is whether they actually influence consumers’ behaviour and it is therefore essential to know how and in what amount consumers are exposed to claims on food. A recent study found that around one quarter of food products in Europe carry health claims but this figure differs between European countries. Researchers from the EU-funded project CLYMBOL (“Role of health-related CLaims and sYMBOLs in consumer behaviour”) analysed how often and what type of claims and symbols were found on food package and found that one quarter (26%) of all products carried at least one claim. Most of these claims were nutrition claims (64%), followed by health claims (29%) and only 6% health-related ingredient claims. Health claims comprised mainly of general health claims and nutrient and other function claims, while hardly any reduction and disease risk claims and children’s’ development and health claims were found.

17/02/2016

A team of researchers from Université Libre de Bruxelles in Brussels, Belgium, have investigated whether the increase of one hour of sleep, in people who normally sleep less than seven hours, resulted in a lower risk of developing diabetes. Indeed, an hour of extra sleep had positive effects on several markers that indicate diabetes risk, including insulin and glucose levels and insulin sensitivity.

14/01/2016

One in 10 people fall ill every year from diseases caused by consuming unsafe food and water. The result is 420,000 deaths worldwide of which almost one third concern children under five. These are the first ever estimates of the global burden of foodborne diseases reported by the World Health Organization on 3rd December 2015.

13/11/2015

A meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, was held in October 2015 in Lyon, France. A Working Group of 22 scientists from 10 countries had a task to investigate the potential carcinogenic effects of eating red and processed meats. In an article published in the Lancet, the IARC assessment classified processed meat as carcinogenic and red meat as probably carcinogenic to humans. This classification indicates hazard (whether an agent is capable of causing cancer), but does not measure the risk (likelihood that cancer will occur). Although the link between the consumption of red and processed meats and cancer is not new, the IARC publication has again stirred a discussion about recommendations for meat consumption.

13/10/2015

Researchers from the Wageningen University in the Netherlands found that thinking in black and white terms when it comes to food (e.g. thinking of foods as either “good or bad”) can partly explain why the tendency to consciously control food intake is associated with more weight regain. People who follow a rigid “all or nothing” diet approach may be more likely fail to stick with their diet and tend to regain weight in the long-term.

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