During Nutrition Month many of us will plan or participate in activities that get students cooking. Knowing what to eat can be just as important as knowing how to prepare it. Here are some tips for food safety to keep in mind during your cooking activities next month. And as always, make sure an adult is in the kitchen to supervise young chefs.
- Wash hands – This is the first thing to do when stepping into the kitchen. “Always wash your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Isabel Maples, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Don’t forget to wash your hands after handling raw meat and poultry to avoid spreading germs through the juices.”
- Now wash the rest – After washing your hands, wash fruits and vegetables before cutting them, and don’t forget the counters to avoid spreading possible harmful bacteria.
- Practice knife skills – Preschoolers can start practicing with a to-go plastic knife and ask they become older and more confident they can move up to a kitchen knife. Check out the knife safety tips at The Step Stool Chef http://www.stepstoolchef.com/knife-safety-tips-for-kids/ for a guide on how to hold a knife properly and other tips.
- Grab the potholder – Remind students to use a potholder or double-folded towel to handle hot pots and pans.
- Don’t undercook meats – Check meats with a thermometer. All meats should be cooked to a different temperature, so check this minimum internal temperature chart to avoid the risk of foodborne illness.
- Think before you lick – To avoid consuming raw ingredients think about what is in the bowl or on the spoon before you lick it. Avoid raw eggs and even flour can contain bacteria. Heat kills the bacteria, so you’ll be fine once the ingredients are cooked.
- Check clothes and hair – Don’t cook in loose clothing that can get dragged in the bowl or come in contact with flames. And pull hair back…you know why… nobody wants hair in their food.
- Wipe up spills – As you cook, wipe up any accidents to avoid spreading messes and bacteria and, therefore, possibly contaminating other ingredients. Always use soapy warm water on countertops.
- Store food properly – Cold temperatures slow the growth of bacteria, so perishable foods should be refrigerated within two hours. Make sure dry goods (cereal, bread, etc.) are stored in an air tight container. Check out more food storage safety tips here: https://www.foodsafety.gov/keep/index.html.