Cooking recipes: a health hazard?

Cooking recipes are always popular, but are the information and preparation advice they provide reliable, particularly in terms of food safety? The situation is not brilliant, according to an analysis of nearly 1,500 recipes.

Cookbooks are supposed to teach us the right things, but when it comes to food safety, that’s rarely the case. This is what emerges from the work carried out by a team from North Carolina State University in the United States. The researchers sifted through 1,497 recipes from 29 cookbooks listed on the New York Times bestseller list in the “food and diet” category. They paid particular attention to the recommended cooking temperatures.

Lack of clear information, especially on cooking

It appears from their analysis that only 123 recipes, or 8% of the sample examined, mention cooking the dishes at a specific temperature. And among them, 28% did not give a recommended temperature to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Also, only 89 of the 1,497 recipes give the reader reliable information to reduce the risk of food poisoning, says Ben Chapman, senior author of the publication and associate professor of humanities and agriculture at NC State University. .

“It’s cooked”.. but when? for which oven? for what size dish?

This work reveals that in total, no less than 99.7% of the recipes give the reader subjective indicators to determine if a dish is cooked. And none of these indicators – like the appearance of a chicken’s juices, the color or texture of the meat, or even the expression “when it’s done” – are a reliable way of knowing if the we have reached the cooking temperature that ensures safety, continues Chapman.

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The information most frequently found is the cooking time (44% of recipes), but for the authors, it is not a guarantee of safety, as there are so many parameters involved, such as the size of the dish, its starting temperature, cooking equipment…


Levine K. et al., Evaluating food safety risk messages in popular cookbooks. British Food Journal,119.


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