How to Teach Children Food Safety

Paul White's picture

We all know that kids love messing about in the kitchen whilst getting as messy as possible. Whether it be helping to bake their own masterpiece or making something simple for their own lunch, one of the first and most important things (aside from making sure they have loads of fun, enjoy the experience and learn new skills) is to teach them all about the bugs and nasties they can pick up along the way if they are not careful with hygiene.

Perhaps the first step of the fascinating family food frolic could be a fun trip to the supermarket. Get your little darlings to choose what they would like to make and take note of everything they need to make it. Then it’s off you all go in search of the chosen ingredients for your budding chefettes to get cracking with and you are ready for the serious stuff to begin.

Fun steps to teaching kids the food hygiene rules:

  1. Encourage them to inspect all the produce on offer. Introduce them to sell by and use by dates on perishable items and what they mean and challenge them to find the longest date they can – explain that this is a good place to start when avoiding tummy upsets.
  2. Inspect fruits and vegetables with them for any signs of rotting or damage to outer surfaces which may already contain bacteria or even unwanted guests. Maybe have a guessing game about where the items have travelled from to get to the shelves. Encourage them to accept the not so perfectly shaped ones and find the oddest shaped vegetable or fruit they can.
  3. Talk to them about how and why colour coding of food works particularly with raw meat, which will be super helpful once you get home with the goods. Let them pack the trolley with colour coded bags to separate the meat from the veg, then see how many rules they can remember to use in the kitchen when preparing their ingredients later.
  4. Make sure they think about why it’s best to get chilled and frozen foods last to avoid temperature issues and defrosting on the way home. When it’s all done get everything packed and head off back to the ranch to unpack and start the cooking.
  5. Once you have it all unloaded and stored in the right colour coded places the next thing of course is a hand washing competition – vitally important. Then its aprons on to prevent germs coming onto the food from their clothes and to protect their clothes from the mayhem to follow! Hair tied back for the girls or even funky chefs hats would make your team feel like professionals. Add some groovy blue latex gloves and you are all set to chop and roll.
  6. Before all the excitement of chopping, mixing and stirring gets underway a few important pointers regarding cleaning surfaces, using sharp knives, moving around the kitchen with hot pots and pans and particular emphasis on the use of oven gloves is required. Remember to clean up any spillages straight away to avoid slipping or accidents then that’s it – let the cook off begin.

Food hygiene and safety in and around the kitchen is a very important life skill we need follow and to teach our little ones, just as important is making the experience a happy one. With a bit of imagination there are a zillion different ways to encourage learning and make it great fun for all the family – with a delicious end result to safely enjoy.

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