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Friday, 27 December, 2002, 10:10 GMT
Stir over TV cook hygiene
Nigella Lawson
Nigella Lawson was criticised for wearing jewellery
Celebrity television chefs Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson have come under fire for neglecting basic kitchen hygiene standards.

The presenters are among a raft of TV chefs who are exhibiting bad habits that could influence millions of viewers, warns the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Oliver: Finger-licking dish?
The independent watchdog singled out Lawson and Oliver for licking their fingers after dipping them into foods.

It also says many TV chefs fail to follow "basic rules" such as washing hands and removing jewellery to avoid harbouring dangerous bacteria.

But members of Britain's Master Chefs have defended their television colleagues, saying they were not working in "a health and safety laboratory".

The CIEH, a non-government-affiliated charity, says the programmes' producers should make sure they show chefs demonstrating hygiene awareness as well as culinary excellence.

'Studied health'

Bad habits shown on television could invite a potentially fatal outbreak of food poisoning, the charity warns in a report in the Times newspaper.

They do have time frames and it is quite difficult in the environment

Rob Kirby, Master Chef
Jamie Oliver is accused of spraying saliva over food through his excitable commentary, and licking his fingers after dipping them in his creations.

Ms Lawson should remove her rings while cooking to prevent them becoming a haven for dangerous bacteria, the charity says.

Jenny Morris, the institute's food policy expert tells The Times: "Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and other chefs have all studied the health and safety food preparation rules in college and should be setting a better example.

'Balance'

"If they were carrying out such practices in restaurants, health and safety officials would come down on them like a ton of bricks."

The charity also said the need for separate chopping boards for meat and vegetables was not always observed on television.

Master Chef of Great Britain Rob Kirby - an executive at contract caterers Avenance - said TV chefs did pay attention to hygiene, although they could be "a little bit tighter".

"They do have time frames and it is quite difficult in the environment," he told BBC News 24.

"It's television, not a health and safety laboratory."

Television companies should make sure hygiene standards are included in pre-recorded programmes, he said.

"There just needs to be a balance," he added.

See also:

17 Sep 02 | England
23 Dec 01 | Entertainment
24 Aug 00 | UK
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