Author(s): Wu SP, Hsieh CS
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Abstract The culinary spatula (turning shovel) is one of the most common cooking tools used in the kitchen in Asia. However, the culinary spatula has seldom been ergonomically investigated. When a person uses a spatula to cook food, the operations involve repetitive bent-wrist motions, such as dorsiflexion, palmary flexion, and radial and ulnar deviations. These movements may cause cumulative trauma disorders in the upper extremities, and in particular carpal tunnel syndrome. A poorly designed culinary spatula will be ergonomically inefficient and cause injury to the hand and wrist. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of spatula handle length and lift angle on food-frying, food-turning, and food-shoveling performance. Eight female subjects were tested using 16 different culinary spatulas, with four different handle lengths (20, 25, 30 and 35 cm) and four different lift angles (15 degrees, 25 degrees, 35 degrees and 45 ). The criterion measures included cooking performance, and rating of perceived exertion. The subjects ranked their preference after all of the tasks in the tests were completed. The results showed that: (1) The handle length had a significant influence on the cooking performance, and rating of perceived exertion. The optimal handle lengths for frying food, turning food, and shoveling food were 20, 25 and 25 cm, respectively. (2) The lift angle significantly affected the cooking performance, and rating of perceived exertion. The optimal lift angles for frying food, turning food, and shoveling food were 15 degrees, 15 degrees and 25 degrees, respectively. (3) Both the handle length and lift angle had significant effects on subjective preference. For the handle length, the 20 cm length was the best. For the lift angle, the 25 angle was the best. (4) In general, a spatula with a 20 cm handle length and 25 degrees lift angle was the best. A spatula with a 25 cm handle length and 15 lift angle was the second most preferred. (5) However, to prevent subjects from touching the edge of a hot pan, a spatula with a 25 cm handle length and 25 lift angle is suggested.
This article was published in Appl Ergon
and referenced in Journal of Food Processing & Technology