Many Food Network Chefs Practice ‘Poor Food Handling’ and Now You’ll Never Unsee It

The rise of reality TV centered around cooking and baking has been impressive, and The Food Network has been front and center at bringing us competitive game shows based around culinary skills as well as provided us with a platform for celebrity chefs to come into being.

The popularity has been so widespread that entertainment platforms across the industry have now started creating their own food-based reality programming. Without a doubt, these shows have given fans watching at home some aspirational goals.

Who among us hasn’t felt compelled to grill the perfect steak or put the cherry on top of a gorgeous cake after watching the pros at work? 

However, keen-eyed viewers have noted that not all the “professional” practices on these series meet the industry standards for cleanliness and hygiene. Once you’ve seen the offenses pointed out, it’s hard to ignore them — and it just might turn your stomach. 

The Food Network was almost a flop

Amanda Freitag, Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Maneet Chauhan and Chris Santos of 'Chopped'
Amanda Freitag, Marcus Samuelsson, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy, Maneet Chauhan and Chris Santos of ‘Chopped’ | Amanda Edwards/Getty Images for Discovery, Inc.

These days, The Food Network is such a pillar of the television world that it’s hard to imagine the entertainment landscape without it, but it wasn’t that long ago that the entire thing was threatening to go belly-up.

According to WGBH News, the early 1990s decision to focus on a food-inspired network was a “major gamble,” and it almost didn’t pay off. One of the very first celebrity chefs, Sara Moulton, made an early appearance on the fledgling network’s set, and they didn’t even give her a working oven! 

That wasn’t the only early tale of woe. Mario Batali, who would eventually become a big name in the food entertainment scene, sliced open his knuckles while filming and “plunged his hand in a bowl of tomatoes to hide the blood” because the executives wouldn’t stop filming.

In its early days, the network aimed to encourage everyday Americans to get into the kitchen themselves, but the rise of the platform actually had the opposite impact.

Entertainment analyst Eddie Yoon explains that “[t]he advent of food TV, the explosion of it, has raised the bar, and made it that much more complicated and intimidating for people to cook.” 

Big stars dominate The Food Network today

RELATED: Amy Schumer’s Food Network Show Is ‘A Total Kitchen Train Wreck’ And Fans Love It

While those early days were certainly dicey, The Food Network ultimately cooked up a winning combination of charismatic hosts and cutthroat competitions that kept fans glued to the screen.

Over time, a few big names started to dominate the lineup. In fact, some critics have gone so far as to say the entire network really only has three shows. They’re just all remixed versions of the same thing cycling through features from host Guy Fieri and the popular competition show Chopped

The competition shows, in particular, put pressure on fast cooking and quick decisions. The contestants are often racing against a clock, and that leads to a lot of suspenseful moments for the audience watching along from the comfort of their couches rather than risking their fingers under a sharp knife. 

Safety protocols are not always followed on food shows

While the shows often focus on the professionals present and the expertise they bring to the set, it turns out that there are a lot of corners being cut on many reality food shows. 

Daily Blender reports that many of the cooking conditions on the popular shows are downright unsanitary. Texas Tech approved a grant for a study that would look into the safety conditions on the sets, and what they found was disturbing. 

Violations included “food from unsafe sources, failure to use a thermometer, use of food from the floor, failure to refrigerate perishables, failure to wash fruits or vegetables, inadequately washing equipment, sampling food or licking fingers, cross contamination of ready-to-eat or raw foods, and touching the face.” Yikes!

Fans had already noticed some of the most flagrant violations, but these detailed lists are sure to draw their attention to even more distressing acts that fly in the face of good hygiene and safe eating.