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Teaching Kids About Food Safety

Updated on May 22, 2014

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?

Germs make us sick.
Germs make us sick.

Wash Your Hands

Photo Credit:  Gilbert Galbraith
Photo Credit: Gilbert Galbraith

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.

Photo Credit: Ehsan Namavar
Photo Credit: Ehsan Namavar
Photo Credit: Centralasian / CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Centralasian / CC BY 2.0

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.
  •  When eating outdoors, and there are flies around, keep them away. Cover the food to avoid contact and spread of germs on the food.

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.

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.

Food Safety Advice for Packing Lunches


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    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 5 years ago from Philippines

      Yeah, right, fapper234.

    • profile image

      fapper234 5 years ago

      i eat fly sandwiches ...for lunch

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 7 years ago from Philippines

      BkCreative, at least something is being done in the US about unsafe foods. It is difficult when unsafe foods are available on the market. The children are most at risk of food poisoning and death.

      Glad to include your 5 second rule link. It is a very good hub on the subject. Thanks for being a fan. I am your fan, too.

    • Chin chin profile image

      Chin chin 7 years ago from Philippines

      Sandyspider, we definitely need to teach our kids about food safety. Thanks for the read.

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Great hub! I'm so glad you included that link to the 5 second rule. Here in the US we have some serious problems pertaining to the safety of our foods. It seems like every other day there is major food recall here in the US - either e.coli or salmonella.

      I'm a fan now so I can keep up! Thanks so much!

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      This is so true that we need to teach our kids about food safety. Nice hub.