The Real Reason So Many Get Food Poisoning

Nearly everyone in this USDA test failed to wash their hands

(Maggie Fox, NBC News) Government scientists trying out a new kitchen safety training video got an unpleasant surprise when they watched how people behave during food preparation.

Not only did their volunteers fail to use meat thermometers properly — or even at all in many cases — but they failed to wash their hands and spread germs all over the kitchen.

They videotaped their volunteers and counted thousands of instances in which people spread germs from raw meat to salad, refrigerator handles, and even spice containers.

The findings help explain why 48 million Americans catch foodborne illnesses every year, said Carmen Rottenberg, top food safety official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“There were many, many times in the course of the study that people had the opportunity to wash their hands — nearly 1,200 opportunities,” Rottenberg told NBC News. Yet people failed almost all of the time, close to 98 percent of the time, the team found.

The USDA team was trying out a new video to help people understand how and when to use food thermometers.

They showed the video to 182 volunteers, and didn’t show it to another 201, and then put all of them into a test kitchen and asked them to prepare turkey burgers and salad.

The volunteers were videotaped as they worked.

Those who had watched the video were twice as likely to use a meat thermometer when cooking the turkey burgers, the USDA team found: 75 percent of those who’d seen the training video at least tried to use one, even if they did it incorrectly. That compares to just 34 percent of the volunteers who did not see the video.

“They had access to everything in the kitchen but perhaps they didn’t think about the meat thermometers,” Rottenberg said.

They should have — the USDA and CDC recommend always using a meat thermometer to cook raw meat. Read the full story at NBC News. 

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