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Jul 21, 2014 10:17 AM


I know there are a lot of experienced cooks and kitchen savvy Chowhounds posting on the boards. But we have many people who are novices and have legitimate questions that need good answers. In the past year or so I have seen suggestions and opinions that for the most are just wrong. Some of those answers that are posted to the queries can be harmful or dangerous. I feel that when we post an answer it is our responsibility to be accurate as possible. If one is posting an opinion about something it should be indicated that it is an opinion, IMHO. This issue has been bothering me for awhile and I just had to speak up.

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  1. I understand what you mean, Candy. But there's difficulties. Folk may post a potentially harmful suggestion with the absolute certainty that it is not harmful. You cannot legislate on a discussion board for someone's different knowledge base, experience, etc. I think all we can reasonably do, if we see a post that we believe is harmful, is to post something to that effect by way of a warning. Of course, we would then also be in the same position - posting in the absolute certainty that something is harmful when it may not be.

    Have to say that if someone is foolish enough to post on an internet discussion board asking about possible food safety issues and then rely on what a group of perfect strangers may say to them, they are almost asking for trouble.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Harters

      Exactly right, Harters. One person's opinion may be another person's fact. One example is when someone thinks they got sick from the mayo in the potato salad when, in fact, it was the potatoes. The best/only solution is, as you say, to gently :) refute and, if possible, link to a reputable site. And I DO agree that seeking food safety advice here is just damn foolish.

    2. There are enough legitimate websites for more serious, health/safety issues that anyone who takes message board advice as gospel has only him/her self to blame.

      1 Reply
      1. A lot of people on here think they know more than they do.
        Hell, some of them put peas in carbonara. Should be an immediate ban.

        1. Other Than Food Safety,
          can you give a generic example, Candy?

          8 Replies
          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            Not Candy, but here's an example. There's a current thread about buying used naked cast iron pans, some of which are rusty. Some of the replies suggest using spray-on oven cleaner. I have ZERO idea if that is or isn't dangerous, but a few weeks ago a caller asked about that on America's Test Kitchen Radio. Kimball and Bridget Lancaster both said not to do it, because the chemicals would permeate the pores of the cast iron and could then leach into the food you cook in the pan. Whether their caution was based on assumption or science, I don't know. They didn't cite any references. But just in case, I posted on the above-mentioned thread to relay that concern.

            1. re: greygarious

              I just went through three pages of Google hits on this subject and there was not one site that had what I would consider reputable info on the subject. I think that's what I would point out. Buyer beware.

            2. re: Kris in Beijing

              Kris, I came across a post where someone asked the board about purchasing, asking whether he should get A or B. One poster made a suggestion and then went on to say that it could be used in a manner for which it was not intended. When I called on that the poster then he then came back and said to do that with model C. The OP could have done something very dangerous.

              1. re: Candy

                Oh. Yes. I see.

                It's tough when someone believes some combination is fine (I have an iron stomach) whilst someone else had an allergic reaction and was hospitalized (I'm also allergic to aloe).
                However, for the most part the back-and-forth is the beauty of CH, with the exception of those who (using my example) would tell EVERYONE that consuming aloe will put them in ICU.

                1. re: Kris in Beijing

                  You're allergic to aloe?! You're the only other person I've met with that allergy. (And I'm sorry you have it, 'cause it bites.)

                  On topic, though, I think that there are ways of saying "Hey, although it was suggested you try 'X,' some people have reported bad experiences / results and have chosen to go with 'Y' instead."

                  1. re: ElsieDee

                    Yep, allergic to aloe.
                    My kiddoes used to be worried that I'd get into a car accident, get burned, be slathered in aloe by EMS, go straight into anaphylactic shock, and die; they wanted me to wear a medic alert bracelet.
                    To the topic, many Hounds have a writing style that is more of the "expert" than the "you might try" advisor.
                    Too many chefsā€¦

                    1. re: ElsieDee

                      My mother was also allergic to aloe, in a very BIG way.

                      1. re: pikawicca

                        My first year in Beijing, I discovered that "Breakfast Milk" included aloe.
                        Not a pleasant experience.

                        Kris now in DC/NoVA

              2. If someone thinks a poster is wrong, feel free to enter into the discussion.
                Other than food safety issues, I fail to see the gravity of telling someone to use cream in their Alfredo sauce.

                7 Replies
                1. re: monavano

                  But I think it's nice and helpful to point out that, generally speaking, that's not how it's prepared.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Really? No cream in risotto or carbonara, for sure, but the recipe I use for Alfredo sauce, from Marcella Hazan, is cream, butter, and Parmesan cheese. Is that wrong?

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      Saveur had an article about it:
                      Fettuccine, butter, parmesan.
                      (But then what is butter but cream after inverting the oil-in-water emulsion into a water-in-oil emulsion. So it does contain cream!)

                      1. re: drongo

                        Super article giving the history and the fact that cream was not in the original.

                        1. re: drongo

                          No freshly ground pepper? Love the Saveur recipe.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          Well, that's a whole can of worms!
                          But yes, inevitably someone will bring up that cream is not supposed to be in Alfredo and others will chime in.
                          You can almost set your watch by it!

                          My point was that advising someone as such is pretty darn innocuous.
                          OMG, I didn't make authentic Alfredo, call 911!!!!!

                          /sarcasm ;-)