Confessions of a Youtube Drooler: Youtube Science


A project I’ve recently been working on with a fellow food science friend has us both perusing the depths of Youtube to uncover the latest and greatest of burger videos. Yup! You read that right, upwards of one hundred burger videos – regular grilled hamburgers, cheeseburgers, Epic Meal Time burgers, even ramen burgers – get their own visual, audio, and salivary screen time past our slightly numbed graduate student minds.

The thing that seems to set each and every burger video apart – or rather, clump them together – is the phrase, “the best” or “favorite” or something glorifying of that rendition. After about 15 such videos, the first thought that has continually crossed my mind has been, “Really? What sets you apart from the last video?” What gives you the right to assume (quite egotistically, one might add) your recipe is better than another’s recipe? Do you assume that because you have more subscribers, more comments, a higher “Like” to “Dislike” ratio that your burger extravaganza supersedes all others? (Okay, I digress; Google Analytics does a doozy with this one.) Additionally, if you’re going to claim that your recipe is the best, perhaps you should actually include a recipe. What’s even more fascinating is the extent at which everyone seems to think their specific burger methodology is the “correct” methodology for preserving flavor and enhancing taste; yet, these specific methods tend to be quite contradictory. For example: some videos will strongly suggest smashing down the burger – much like they view some restaurants to do it – whereas others will vehemently declare that anything so much as touching the burger will cause said wondrous meat to fail in magnificent proportions. It begs the question, who to believe? Would you rather watch the video of a restaurant dissecting a burger to its components, or a pro-kitchen chef who is more apt to add a humanizing touch?

Between gastronomy that one could practice at home and Guy Fieri dripping burger juice all over the counters of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”, one thing I’ve learned is there is no end to the saliva my mouth seems to be able to produce.  Now, with the addition of HD (high definition, for all you anti-acronym fellows), the drooling has only increased. The sizzling of the burger as it hits the grill, the juices as it oozes out, the delicious searing, and finally the imagined waft of meaty goodness is just too much for my fragile lab-warped mind to handle. All I want is a burger!

But wait! What’s the catch? Why are we even looking at these videos? Why must we continually subjugate ourselves to this tragic deliciousness?  If these videos are any indication of how things are actually prepared, it is only a matter of time before we are all in for a trip to the hospital. None of these videos ever practice – or even hint at – food safety. In fact, the notion of the proper usage of thermometers, lack of cross contamination, or even the washing of one’s hands is either laughed at or completely ignored. Thus, the point of this is belied: if each video is the representation of “the best” then they ought to be more stringent in explaining to people the benefits or negatives of certain actions. Of course, it is easy enough for you or me to say. But how could we better reinforce the knowledge, nay teach the general public, more about what they can do to prevent the risk of contamination and illness. How does one defeat the invincibility fable?

While you help us think of ideas or solution, that you should leave in the comments below, I shall be throwing myself to the kitchen in hopes of making a delicious and ginormous chive-pork ramen burger topped with kimchi, a sunny-side up egg.

How do you think we can improve food safety communication online?

Photo credit

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Spoiler Alert – Frozen Food Safety Monitor for your Freezer

It’s only ~$20 on Amazon. This would have been perfect back last year when our freezer defrosted (twice) because I accidentally over-packed it. We ended up having to throw everything out; however, this would have allowed for us to judge better what could have been saved!

According to the Amazon description: ” In the event of an incident (freezer door not properly closed, power outage or anything affecting your freezer), the 4 liquids will independently melt into lower chambers. Depending on the color of the liquids that have melted, you will know the recommended time you have left to safely consume your frozen foods. 4 liquids for 4 recommendations. In the case of an incident the liquids will melt in the following order: Blue = 14 days to consume your frozen food, Blue and Green = 3 days to consume your frozen food, Blue, Green and Yellow = 1 day to consume your frozen food. All 4 liquids: Blue, Green, Yellow and Red: Discard everything. From the last time you verified the FreezCube.”

Too cool! 🙂 Definitely going on my “Wish List”

US Food Safety

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Dr. JP Courchia,  Endocrinologist 
Spoiler Alert allows a thorough surveillance of the foods in freezers, which support healthy dietetic programs.”

Nicole S., Teacher
“After a long hesitation, I discarded all of my frozen food when my freezer alarm rang. What a waste ! Later, I came across Spoiler Alert in my supermarket, and I don’t hesitate anymore. I now know what to do in case of an incident and the solution is not necessary to throw everything away! Spoiler Alert is an intelligent innovation that I highly recommend to everyone.”

Dr. Maurice Moutot, Nutritionist

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IFT 2013 in Chicago – Part 1

Hey everyone,

Guess What? I’m in Chicago right now for IFT 2013! IFT13 is the Annual industry/scientific/professional meeting and Food Expo for Food Scientists (and affiliates) everywhere! IFT is the Institute of Food Technologists with the goal of “feeding the minds that feed the world”. Check them out here! The Expo runs from Sunday July 14, 2013 to Wednesday July 17, 2013 at the McCormick Center.

With over “20,000 of the world’s top food science and technology professionals” in attendance, IFT is the place to be to learn about the most recent and influential product development products, ingredients, and technology. Companies from around the world come together to showcase their products and ingredients. Additionally, there is a plethora of scientific programs, lectures and poster sessions (link) for all participants. The conference’s top talks are all streamed live for those who aren’t able to participate (link). For students part of IFTSA (IFT’s Student Association), there are also multiple competitions (ie: IFTSA product development competitions, College Bowl Competitions, etc.) and interviews/educational opportunities.. There was also a sold-out 5K Fun Run/Walk whose proceeds benefit IFT’s food science student/professional development program, Feeding Tomorrow (link).

[read more!]

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What is Food Waste?

Food waste (also known as food loss) is classified as food “that is discarded or unable to be used”. The United States Environmental Protection Agency defines food waste as “uneaten food and food preparation wastes from residences and commercial establishments”.

In the United States alone in 2011,  at least 36 million tons of food waste was generated!  1.3 billion tons of food throughout the world is lost or wasted, yearly. 1.3 billion is about 1/3 of the total food produced in the world! Be it from the food either used or going bad, to the misleading “Best By” or “Expire By” labels, to the misconceptions and disgust of purchasing aesthetically imperfect produced or groceries,  to even the lack of knowledge for further uses of byproducts, Americans – nay, all of us as citizens of this world– waste a lot of food.

However, to take one step towards minimizing the most basic food waste issue (discarding food) we here at hope to change your kitchen and better improve your eating habits with innovative ideas so that you can make the most of your delicious food purchases.

Last month, as part of our commitment to promoting food waste and reduce the indiscriminate discarding of food, Kitchology gladly accepted the USDA Food Waste Challenge (blog link). The USDA Food Waste Challenge (link here) is built upon the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge to raise awareness amongst Americans to reduce food waste. As such, over the next week (or two), we will talk more about the food waste issue in the United States and how you can not only minimize your food excess and food waste, but also maximize your food purchases and consumption with becoming bored.

Additionally, as you’ve probably seen, every Friday, we are promoting the theme of “Food Friday” geared towards you for something to eat or to try for the weekend. Last Friday (July 5th), we began addressing the food waste issue by providing you with delicious solutions for your delightful 4th of July leftovers (blog link). Leftovers are a huge part of food waste; sometimes the food spoils, sometimes we no longer want to eat them because we’ve eaten the same thing one too many times, and other times they’re simply forgotten about. We’d like to put a spin to the food you eat, how you handle the food, and what to do with it. Stay tuned!

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4th of July! Time to Eat, but SAFETY FIRST!

Hello Dear Readers,

We are one day away from the Independence of our United States; the great 4th of July. Get out the fireworks! Pour out the drinks! Light up the grill! Are you getting ready for another year of delicious BBQ, family hangout time, and fun activities?

But, you know what’s worse than that awful hangover you may have from one-too-many-beers (or insert drink or activity of choice here) the next day? Keeling over the porcelein throne heaving your guts out and being incredibly sick in bed with possible fevers and chills the next day. What could it have come from? Was it the egg salad? Was it the meat?

The pain. The agony. The tortuous hours you could have been spent having fun, but instead were awfully sick with “the bug” is indeed preventable! Indeed, The super common 24-hour “flu”, as we all call it, is actually from toxin formation (especially from Bacillus cereus and Staphylococcus aureus) within foods that have not been stored at the right temperatures or are left to sit out for long periods of time!

Don’t forget, first and foremost, that food safety (proper handling and storage) is imperative to a delightful and eventful weekend of shenanigans.

Ready to Eat ALL the delicious food?

Here are 4 simple tips offered by the FDA to best prevent food poisoning!

USDA Blog Infographic

Clean and wash hands, counter-tops, and other surfaces often.

  • Wash your hands with Soap and Water! A good rule of thumb here is to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. Don’t forget to scrub between your fingernails too!
  • WASH YOUR HANDS between handling meats, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.
  • Keep Towels and a Sanitizer In the Kitchen. Every time there is a spill, or splatter, make sure to wipe it up!

Separate and don’t cross-contaminate.

  • Keep MEATS and VEGETABLES separate.
  • Use different cutting boards and plates for meats/poultry/seafood, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.
  • WASH YOUR HANDS between handling meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, raw, and cooked products.

Cook food to proper temperatures to kill the harmful bacteria.

  • ALWAYS USE A FOOD THERMOMETER. I know, I know…you’re recipe passed down the family says to cook it, and poke the center. “If it pokes back, then it’s ready to eat!” Please don’t do this! Please use a thermometer to test the inside of your food. Oftentimes, it is because the proper temperatures are not met within the food product (especially meats, poultry, and seafood) that foodborne illness occurs. 
  • Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in the refrigerator!

Attached is a copy of the “Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures” Chart as provided by

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures For Food

Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures For Food

Store and refrigerate food (and leftovers) ASAP!

  • The super common 24-hour “flu”, as we all call it, is actually from toxin formation (especially from Bacillus cereus and Staphylococus aureus) within foods that have not been stored at the right temperatures or are left to sit out for long periods of time! 
Keep Hot Foods above 135F, Keep Cold Foods below 41F

Keep Hot Foods above 135F, Keep Cold Foods below 41F

  • Especially if the weather is hot, please refrigerate all your food within 1 hour.
  • Do not leave food at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.
  • There are other guidelines for this; however, we’re assuming that you are enjoying the hot (perhaps humid) summer weather for this 4th of July. Please remember to put your food into the refrigerator.
  • Use a Cooler! 🙂
  • Again, do not thaw foods at room temperature.
  • Reheat leftovers thoroughly!

These basic food safety tips are provided to you by the FDA and the USDA. For further information, please click on the links provided below!

Here’s to all of you having a safe, enjoyable, and fun Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day!

For Further Food Safety Links and Sites

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