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Healthy kids: Teaching children about food safety

It’s imperative that we teach our children about the dangers of food poisoning and what we can do to avoid it. There are some simple ways to teach your children about food safety, and we’ve collected them for today’s post.

Why food safety matters

Start by teaching your kids why food safety is so important. Let them know about the risks of food poisoning and explain to them that nasty things like bacteria grow on food and these can make us sick.

Also, explain that we can avoid food poisoning with some easy steps. 

Role model good behaviours

As with any action you want to teach your child, it’s essential you walk the talk and act the way you want them to. Show them the right food safety behaviours by doing them yourself. This includes things like hand washing, stacking the fridge correctly, using foods within their use by date and proper kitchen hygiene practices.

Involve the kids

Telling your kids about food safety and role modelling good behaviour is a great start, but take it up a notch by including them in your food safety activities. Top tips for things to get the kids involved in:

At the supermarket

  • Checking use by dates
  • Checking for cracked eggs in a carton
  • Looking for fresh produce (meat, seafood, fruit and veg)

Stacking the fridge

  • Condiments, spreads, medications, butter and other stable items in the fridge door
  • Ready to eat foods, open dairy items like cheese and yoghurt, ready-made salads and fresh snacking fruit on the top shelf
  • Unopened dairy is a good fit for the middle shelves as there is less temperature fluctuation there
  • Store your raw meat, seafood and poultry on the bottom shelf of the fridge 
  • Keep your fresh vegetables and fruit in the crisper

Cooking and cleaning up the kitchen

  • Washing hands before handling food
  • Keeping dishcloths, sponges and teatowels clean 
  • Checking use by dates on items in the fridge
  • Using separate chopping boards for raw meat/seafood and veggies/fruit
  • Covering things in the refrigerator and ensuring no leaking or dripping
  • Using hot, soapy water to wash dishes and cleaning surfaces down

A safe school lunch

Teaching your kids how to stay safe at school lunchtime is an excellent way to share the food safety message. And maybe they might even share it with their school friends too!

  • Encourage your children to discard all leftover food after eating, including disposable food packagings like cling wrap or paper bags. Don’t reuse these items.
  • If a fridge is available at your child’s school, encourage your child to use it. If one is not available, let them know to keep their lunch out of direct sunlight and the heat of the day.
  • Tell your kid to eat perishable items first.
  • Encourage hand washing with your children. Teach them to wash their hands before handling and eating food.