Prepared by Pamela Schmutz, HGIC Food Safety Specialist, and Elizabeth Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. (New 04/05. Revised 06/11.)
Bookbags and backpacks get quickly tossed aside and the munchies take over when kids burst through the door after school. If your child is home alone for an hour or two after school, how can you make sure their snacks are safe from foodborne bacteria and they are protected from dangers in the kitchen?
Many kids don’t just open a bag of chips — some make cookies from scratch; others use a microwave to heat up instant noodles or soup. Sound safe? Not if the cookie maker tastes the raw homemade cookie dough because that could lead to Salmonella poisoning and sometimes hospitalization. And heating soup in the microwave isn’t safe if the cook isn’t tall enough to reach the microwave and spills hot soup on himself. That's a major cause of serious burns in children.
Take some time for a "Food Safety Workshop" with your children. Walk them around the kitchen. Explain how to safely use the microwave and teach them some basic food safety tips. Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (USDA/FSIS) website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/food_safety_education/for_kids_&_teens/index.asp. You will find a variety of games and puzzles that kids will enjoy.
Quiz: True or False
Before you let kids have the run of the kitchen, take this little true or false quiz together:
(Answers: 1, 2, 3, 4, True. 5 - False. 6,7,8 - True.)
Reading and understanding directions is extremely important. Children should know how to read before being allowed to use the microwave. If they are old enough to use a microwave, follow these tips:
Why should you put food back in the refrigerator as soon as possible? Bacteria need time and the right environment — such as moisture and warmth to grow and multiply. Most foodborne illness-causing organisms grow quickly above 40 °F. Some bacteria can double their numbers every 20 minutes at temperatures above 40 °F. In a few hours, bacteria on food can cause an illness or form toxins that might not be fully destroyed by cooking.
Check out the Fight BAC!® website at http://www.fightbac.org/content/view/19/39/, a fun resource for the whole family. Post the Fight BAC!® messages on your refrigerator as a reminder to the whole family of these strategies to prevent foodborne illness.
Keep this chart where all family members will see it: These temperatures destroy foodborne bacteria, but it is fine to cook meat and poultry to higher temperatures, if you prefer.
|145 °F||Fish steaks or fillets. All cuts of beef, lamb, pork and veal. For both safety and quality, allow meat to rest for 4 minutes before carving or eating.|
|155 °F||Ground, mechanically tenderized or injected meats. Ground fish. Egg dishes.|
|165 °F||Poultry and wild game. Stuffing and casseroles.|
For more information on food safety, request HGIC 3607, Teaching Children about Food Safety, HGIC 3495, Food Safety Mistakes You Do Not Want to Make, and HGIC 3500, Basics of Safe Food Handling.
Page maintained by: Home & Garden Information Center
This information is supplied with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement of brand names or registered trademarks by the Clemson University Cooperative Extension Service is implied, nor is any discrimination intended by the exclusion of products or manufacturers not named. All recommendations are for South Carolina conditions and may not apply to other areas. Use pesticides only according to the directions on the label. All recommendations for pesticide use are for South Carolina only and were legal at the time of publication, but the status of registration and use patterns are subject to change by action of state and federal regulatory agencies. Follow all directions, precautions and restrictions that are listed.