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Make Food Safety the Star

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Do you have a demo station or a kitchen in your public meeting room? Yes? How much time is devoted to talking about food safety?

I ask because a new report analyzed food safety practices in some kitchens and found results that weren't exactly savory: 118 positive food-safety measures and 460 poor food handling incidents were observed. Among the most notable violations were not washing fruits and vegetables properly, and a lack of hand washing in general.

pasta_sm.jpgOh! Perhaps the most important point is that these are not ordinary kitchens and your average consumer. The Texas Tech University study reviewed 49 shows, hosted by A-list celebrity chefs on the Food Network. Programs like "30 Minute Meals with Rachael Ray," "The Essence of Emeril," "Everyday Italian," "Paula’s Home Cooking" and "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee" were critiqued.

According to researchers, “30 Minute Meals” and “Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee” virtually tied for having the most positive behaviors. The worst was “Paula’s Home Cooking,” in part for her affinity for licking her fingers more than 20 times while preparing her meals.

“We realize these are time-limited entertainment programs and not documentaries, but some food safety behaviors could be better incorporated,” said Cindy Akers, associate professor and director of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Student Services Center, in discussing the results.

How true. Food safety is straight-forward and simple. Before you talk about the health benefits of produce or nutritious kids' meals, make sure everyone crowded around your demo station or watching your actions in the tilted mirror above your work area sees you engage in food safety practices and hears you review the easy steps.

It reminds me on an oft-repeated statement that's worth hearing again: What good is healthful food if it's not safe in the first place?

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