In order to keep cooking with kids fun it is necessary to cover a few basic safety rules to keep yourself and food safe.
1.) Always wash your hands.
Teach your kids the importance of washing hands before, during, and after cooking to stop the spread of bacteria that can lead to foodbourne illnesses. You will wash your hands when:
a.) You begin cooking
b.) You touch raw meat or eggs
c.) You switch tasks as such rolling meatballs to chopping vegetables
d.) Touch your face or hair
e.) After you finish
2.) If you have long hair pull it back!
3.) Wash all surfaces before and after cooking.
Surfaces that come into contact with food must be washed, sanitized, and dried with a cloth or wipe before and after working on them.
4.) Handle knives and other equipment properly.
Show your kids how to handle knives properly such as cutting away from yourself and carrying a knife across a kitchen. Even when they are using plastic utensils begin early. At each age teach your kids the appropriate tasks for their age group making sure they know what tasks they need adult supervision with.
5.) Use different towels and cutting boards.
When you cook never use the same cutting board for your meat that you use for prepping vegetables/fruits. Bacteria from meat can easily spread to raw foods and get people sick. The same goes for the towels you use to wipe down surfaces versus to dry dishes. You should never use the same towel for multiple kitchen tasks.
6.) Keep cold food cold and hot food hot
This seems only natural, but at some point in time all of us have kept food out for longer periods of time than is safe. To prevent this:
a.) Transfer large batches of food to smaller containers and store in the refrigerator when cooling to allow the food to cool quickly.
b.) Never leave cold or hot food out at room temperature for more than 60 minutes.
c.) Thaw raw meat or vegetables in the microwave or refrigerator before use. Never thaw foods on the counter because it increases the time food is exposed to unsafe temperatures. It’s important to know that when thawing in the microwave food must be used right away. Foods thawed in the refrigerator must be used within 24 hours.
These rules become more important when traveling, going on picnics, or when packing school lunches. Using hot or cold water bottles or ice packs can ensure food is safe for a couple of hours until lunch period.
7.) Wash all fruits and vegetables.
When washing fruits and vegetables you can use a small brush or your hands under running water. Wash vegetables/fruits to lower the risk of food contamination with dirt, bacteria, and pesticides.
For more information on keeping food safe go to: