Should cookbooks have food safety warnings?


Cookbooks are valuable tools for anyone who loves food. They provide both inspiration and instruction, although a group of experts is taking issues with the latter. The group says most cookbooks don’t adequately emphasize food safety, increasing the risk of food poisoning

Researchers at North Carolina University looked at 29 popular cookbooks to see if they addressed safe cooking temperatures for animal products. Lead researcher Dr.Ben Chapman, told  The Daily Mail  that the group “wanted to see if cookbooks were providing any food-safety information related to cooking meat, poultry, seafood or eggs, and whether they were telling people to cook in a way that could affect the risk of contracting foodborne illness”.

They found that of the recipes that included animal products like meat or eggs, only 8 per cent of all recipes mentioned a specific temperature, and not all the temperatures listed conformed to food safety standards. The study also found that the vast majority of recipes used time as an indicator of doneness, which is often unreliable due to variations in oven and stovetop temperatures and other factors. 

The article did not mention which cookbooks were examined. Many commenters on the article wondered if cookbook authors were responsible for such matters, asking questions like “Whatever happened to common sense and self responsibility”? Do you think cookbooks should always provide safe cooking temperatures, or is that information that home cooks should get from another source? 

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  • wester  on  March 31, 2017

    I think that the people most at risk for food poisoning are exactly not the ones that own a food thermometer – or know how to use one. So while internal temperature may be the most exact method to see if food is done, it is not the one that's most likely to prevent food poisoning. If those experts are not happy about indicators like color or texture, they should be inventing new practical indicators instead of griping about cookbooks not adopting their particular favorite method.

  • jahqdruh  on  March 31, 2017

    I suspect that poor food handling/storage is the cause of more food poisoning than cooking temperatures. I see it as my responsibility to educate myself on food handling, etc. — not the author of a cookbook. Besides, there are books out there for the food service industry that address these issues in far more detail.

  • raowriter  on  March 31, 2017

    Oh nonono. A waste of space and of the writer's time and no one will read it after the first time anyway. It's like vegetarian cookbooks that provide pages of details of what you need for a healthy vegetarian diet and/or how to stock a vegetarian pantry – and most seem to. Knew all that when I became vegetarian, so I never even glance at the information. As jahqdruh said, it's our responsibility to educate ourselves and there's no shortage of information about food safety.

  • melpy  on  April 2, 2017

    While I think these have a time and place, I don't want them in every cookbook. I was once teaching a friend to cook and he didn't know that you couldn't put cooked meat back on the plate you had kept your raw meat. I think if you had to think of every eventuality for food safety for every situation and mention it in every recipe a 50 recipe book could read like an encyclopedia.

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