There are not so many clean cooks in the kitchen these days according to a new study from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Research done in collaboration with North Carolina State University and RTI International found that kitchens and particularly the cooks in them are susceptible to cross-contamination.
The observational study found that consumers don’t wash their hands correctly 97 percent of the time with most of the group failing to wash for the necessary 20 seconds. Additionally, they found only 34 percent of participants used a food thermometer to check doneness of burgers. Of that group, half still didn’t cook the burgers to the recommended 160°F internal temperature.
The study also analyzed cross-contamination risk from meats to other food items. While preparing burgers, 48 percent of the group contaminated spice container. In 11 percent of cases while preparing food, the consumer spread bacteria to refrigerator handles.
As the dairy industry continues to push for high-quality products and standards, it’s important to remember that we must also continue to educate the public on safe eating. That resonates both with dairy products and the meat that comes from our animals.
The study stands as a reminder that food safety is a joint effort between the producer and the consumer.