Food Safety Lessons for Kids

By Christina Whitaker
Knives and other sharp objects can be dangerous to kids while cooking.
Knives and other sharp objects can be dangerous to kids while cooking.

There are a number of dangers associated with cooking and eating food. Many of these dangers are avoidable and can prevent illness or injury. As such, teaching children about food safety is a good way to help them establish good habits with respect to food. To teach kids about food safety, provide information on proper cooking techniques, as well as kitchen safety.

Kitchen Safety

As children grow older, they may develop an interest in helping out with baking or cooking foods. Consequently, it is important that you teach children the dangers present in the kitchen and how to avoid them. Teach children to always walk with knives with the handle facing them and the blade facing downwards. This will prevent serious injury in the event your child falls with the knife. In addition, ensure that children know to turn pot handles away from the edge of the counter to avoid spilling hot contents on themselves. Advise children to cook on low temperatures to avoid hot food splattering onto their skin. Teaching children not to touch hot dishes, stoves or ovens will help them to avoid burns while cooking food.

Avoiding Spoiled Food

Instruct children to avoid eating or consuming spoiled food and drinks. Children should always read the expiration date on food and drinks. If no expiration date is present, children can smell food and drinks and verify that no strange or unusual odours are present. Dairy products, especially, emit odours when spoiled. Other foods such as fruits and breads may grow mould on them when they are no longer suitable for human consumption. Teaching children to refrigerate food right away is another way to ensure they practice sound food safety. Children also should learn to freeze foods they will not consume for longer than a few days to prevent spoilage.

Illness Prevention

Food and drink consumption is one way that children either pass or attain illness. Whether it be food poisoning or the flu, teaching children to stay healthy through food will help prevent illness. Children should learn to always check meat for blood that will indicate that it is not cooked thoroughly to avoid food-borne illnesses. In addition, teaching children to check if the food was prepared in a clean environment also will help prevent such illnesses. Children should not be afraid to ask where food came from or how it was prepared before consuming it. Furthermore, children should avoid sharing food and drinks with friends and family members to avoid easily passing cold, flu and other germs to one another. Children also should be taught to always wash fruits and vegetables before eating to remove dirt and bacteria that can make them sick.

Cleaning the Kitchen

Teach children that a clean kitchen will help prevent illness or injury from food. Always wash dishes immediately after cooking to prevent flies and other bugs from being attracted to your kitchen. Tell children to notify an adult to use hot water and bleach when cleaning blood or other food byproducts from the kitchen counters, as well. Teaching children to rinse out dish sponges and rags with soap and warm water thoroughly after each use to prevent bacteria build up. Dish towels should also be washed weekly.

Hand Washing

Children should always wash their hands before handling or consuming food. Instruct children to wash their hands using warm soap and water for 60 seconds and dry them with a clean towel. This will help prevent the spread of germs from their hands to their mouth.

About the Author

Christina Whitaker began her writing career in 2005 in newspaper journalism. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from UCLA and a law degree. Her legal experience includes work in Federal Court, and civil and criminal litigation. She also maintains a blog on social, pop-culture and cultural matters.