Teaching Kids About Food Safety
We need to teach our kids about food safety. According to the World Health Organization, there were 1.8 million people who died from diarrheal diseases in 2005. In the United States alone, approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year are attributed to foodborne diseases. Moreover, infants and children suffer from malnutrition as a result of foodborne illnesses.
Foodborne illnesses are defined as diseases, usually either infectious or toxic in nature, caused by agents that enter the body through the ingestion of food. Every person is at risk of foodborne illness especially young children. What can we do to prevent as parents to prevent our children from contacting these foodborne diseases?
Wash Your Hands
How to Wash Hands - Fun Song
What should we teach our kids about food safety?
First, we should teach our kids why it is important to practice food safety. Here we can introduce to them the concept of germs.
Why do our stomachs hurt sometimes? Aside from feeling hunger, we can tell them that one of the reasons why our stomachs hurt is when we eat something that is contaminated by germs. Germs are very tiny living creatures invisible to the naked eye that can attack our bodies and cause disease. They can sneak into our bodies through the food we eat. When they get to our stomach, we won't really know it until we feel sick and have symptoms like nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Second, we should teach them what they should do to keep germs away? Here are some of the things that we should "constantly" teach them. "Constantly" because kids are very playful and oftentimes they will not be mindful of these things.
1. Washing the hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Germs are all around and literally in every thing we touch. What have they touched? Toys, telephone, toilet, their nose when they sneezed, etc. It is very easy to pass onto the food to the mouth the germs that are present in the hands.
When should they wash their hands? They should wash their hands before eating or touching food, after using the toilet, after blowing their nose or coughing, after playing with their toys or touching their pets. Long nails are also breeding grounds for germs. So it is very important to trim the nails and keep them clean.
Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
2. Observe ways to keep germs away from the food we eat. How?
- Make sure to wash thoroughly raw foods like fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Keep the kitchen and dining area clean so as not to encourage
germ-carriers like flies and cockroaches to proliferate.
eating outdoors, and there are flies around, keep them away. Cover the food to avoid contact and spread of germs on the food.
- The 5-Second Rule
This so-called rule says food is OK to eat if you pick it up in 5 seconds or less. Would you believe it or not? Read this article from Kid's Health dot org.
- What to Do if You Drop Food On the Floor
As children we had this figured out; dropping food on the floor was never a problem because we ate it anyway. Read this funny hub and see if you would still let your kids eat food that was dropped on the floor.
3. Check the safety
of the food they eat. How would they do that? We should always remind them of these things before buying or consuming their food.
- If they buy food from outside the home, follow the use by date
or expiry date. Buying from a clean food establishment is also a must, though sometimes you can never be absolutely sure.
- If they get leftover food from the home refrigerator, ask the help of grown-ups to assess if it is still safe to eat or not. Ask their help as well in properly preparing it before eating i.e. by reheating in the microwave.
- If you're in doubt about the safety of the food, throw it out. Better be careful than sorry.
Here are More Useful Resources in Teaching Kids about Food Safety
- The Scrub Club Program
A fun, interactive and educational Website that teaches children the proper way to wash their hands. through videos, interactive games, educational music, downloadable activities for kids, educational materials for teachers and parents.
- The Food Detectives Fight BAC!
Kids will enjoy playing food detectives and learn how to keep themselves food safe.
A Final Note to Parents
Keeping our kids food safe is our great responsibility. Let us help them and teach them the ways to avoid food-borne illnesses. As parents, we also have the task of preparing the meals and packed lunches of our kids. I have added here a video on Food Safety Advice for Packing lunches for our guidance.