In Adventures for Healthy Eating, we have been discussing foods that are good to eat for growing bodies and minds. This adventure takes a different twist on healthy eating, but is important an overall healthy adventure for children.
Young children are still developing their immune system. This makes it easier for them to become ill. That is why it is important to keep food fed to children safe. There are four simple steps you can do to keep food safe to eat.
Hand washing is one of the most important ways to keep your preschooler from getting sick. Children and adults should always wash their hands before handling food. Adults should also keep surfaces such as counters clean. Be sure to change dish towels daily or more often if needed. It is especially important to get a new dish towel if it has fallen on the floor.
Don’t cross-contaminate. For example, after cutting meat, wash the knife before using it to cut vegetables. You can start to teach this to children at an early age. After cutting meat, tell the child you are going to wash your hands and get a clean cutting board. As children become older, you can expand on the message and begin to explain that you are switching to a clean cutting board.
You have probably heard to cook foods to the proper temperature, but what is the proper temperature? This chart contains lists the temperatures you should cook foods to kill the bacteria.
Keep cold foods by storing them at a temperature of 40 degrees or cooler. Ice, cold packs and coolers are good ways to keep foods cold when refrigeration is not available.
In addition to the steps above, you can keep the food adventure safe for children by avoiding the following foods that are more likely to cause a foodborne illness:
- Unpasteurized (raw) milk or any products made from unpasteurized milk.
- Raw or partially cooked eggs or food containing raw eggs
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish and shellfish. Unpasteurized juices. Raw sprouts.
- Unwashed fruits or vegetables.
Check out Food Safety for Preschoolers from the Choose MyPlate website for additional ideas on keeping food safe for young children.
Remember, YOU can prevent a foodborne illness for the children in your care.
Mary Schroeder works for the University of Minnesota Extension which helps to connect community needs with University of Minnesota resources. Specifically the Health and Nutrition programs and resources focus on disease & obesity prevention, healthy school environments, and continuing education for community professionals. You can link to the Extension Health and Nutrition website at: http://www.extension.umn.edu/health/