Television Celebrity Chefs as Role Models for Consumers' Safe Food Handling in the Home

Rachelle D. Woods, Christine M. Bruhn

Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 443-457, Nov 2016

Volume 36, Issue 6: Pages 443–457

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Research has documented that television chefs frequently fail to follow recommended food-handling behaviors. This study investigated the food-handling practices of four celebrity chefs, and consumers’ and culinary students’ attitudes toward mishandling. A scale based on the four core practices: Cook, Clean, Chill, Separate was developed, validated, and used to evaluate 59 cooking shows. Video clips of each chef were shown to culinary students to assess their attitudes toward chefs as role models and to consumers in focus groups and via an online survey to measure attitudes toward chef practices and the influence of these attitudes on personal behavior. Television chefs continue to practice potentially dangerous food-handling behaviors. Culinary students believed chefs should serve as positive role models for consumers. Results of the focus groups and online survey confirmed that some consumers were unaware of breaches of safety protocol and admitted they used similar practices. When consumers were aware of mishandling, they reported thinking less of the chef’s expertise. Our findings indicate that consumers viewed celebrity chefs as role models, utilized information transmitted during cooking shows, and often practiced the behaviors they observed. Celebrity chefs’ poor food-handling practices could increase the risk of foodborne illness associated with food prepared at home.

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