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Teaching Children Food Safety Provides a Lifetime Skill for Them


Clean hands are the first step to food safety.

Teaching your child proper hand washing may be taught in school, but reinforcing this practice at home is what will really make hand washing a lifetime habit. Children will follow what their parents do, so be sure to follow these rules yourself if you want your children to develop healthy habits.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), cleanliness is a major factor in keeping foodborne illness to a minimum. The FDA recommends that you wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. By doing this, you can avoid getting sick from food that was contaminated with germs on your hands. You can also keep the food germ-free when your hands have been washed before handling it.

Show your children how to handle food properly.

Many children do not see their parents cook simply because only prepared foods are brought into the home. These may be chicken nuggets that need only to be warmed in the microwave or boxed dinners that do not involve raw meat. If you cook raw chicken or other types of meat, this is an excellent opportunity for you to teach your children safe handling of food.

It is best not to rinse off raw chicken, despite the fact that you may have seen your own mother or grandmother do this. Rinsing spreads the bacteria on the chicken to your sink and other areas that are touched by the chicken.

If you need to put the raw chicken down on a plate, be sure to wash the plate in hot water with soap immediately after using it instead of stacking it with your other dirty dishes. Wash all surfaces that have been touched by the chicken with hot, soapy water. You might want to use a pre-moistened wipe containing bleach to wipe surfaces like counter tops and your stove. You can save your children from possible future illness by showing them how to safely handle raw meat.

Children can learn how to rinse fruit and vegetables before eating.

Sickness can be prevented by rinsing fruits and vegetables under running water. Teach your children how to wash their own hands and then rinse their apple, grapes, or celery. Every piece of fresh produce needs to be washed in a certain way. Soap should never be used to wash these foods, but water turned onto a strong flow will help wash away dirt and many of the germs.

On an apple, you can show your child or grandchild how to rub the apple skin gently and to pay special attention to the area around the stem where pesticides tend to settle if you are not eating organic fruit.

Although it takes a bit of extra time to wash whole fruits and vegetables instead of buying pre-washed and cut produce, the nutritional value of whole pieces of produce is believed to be better than in cut produce that could be days old. By teaching your kids how to cut up a pineapple, how to dice celery or an onion, they will have these skills that lead to old-fashioned home cooking and eating healthy foods.

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