Cooking is a fun way to spend quality time with your kids while teaching them lessons that will last a lifetime. It’s also an activity that most children can’t wait to try. There are a few precautions to take before you start picking out recipes and setting up food stations. As spreading germs, bacteria, and viruses is relatively easy when working with food, you must prioritize everyone’s health and safety. Here are a few food hygiene practices your kids should know.
Wash Your Hands
By far, the most crucial rule when cooking is to wash your hands. There’s a high risk of contamination from the dirt, germs, and bacteria on your palms and underneath your nails to the bacteria on food and countertops. Ensure that your children know how to properly wash their hands before cooking and after working with different foods.
If you have a thumbsucker in the kitchen, you may want to talk to them about keeping their hands out of their mouths while cooking. If it’s a hard habit to break, you could purchase a thumb sucking guard to make it easier.
What to Wear
You’ll soon find that cooking with kids can get messy. As such, you want to make sure that you’re not wearing anything you value. You can also get everyone aprons to reduce the mess. As for food hygiene, you also want your children to wear their hair out of their faces or put on a hair net to keep it from getting in the food. Depending on what types of foods they’re working with, you may also want to give them disposable gloves.
Cover Your Mouth
As coughing and sneezing are quite common in children, it is essential to teach them how to cover their mouths. A cough or sneeze in the wrong direction could contaminate the food and kitchen surfaces. Show them how to cough into their shoulder or forearm. If they should happen to sneeze in their hands, ensure that they immediately wash their hands. If your child isn’t feeling well, it’s best to reschedule your cooking lesson.
Managing Raw Food
Raw meats contain harmful bacteria that can lead to illness should it be ingested. As such, you should wait until your child reaches school age and can comprehend basic instructions before allowing them to handle raw foods. However, if they’re old enough, there shouldn’t be an issue allowing them to work with poultry and other raw protein. As they handle raw foods, ensure that they know to keep their hands away from their face, keep raw food separate from different food types, and wash their hands after they’re done.
No Licking Your Fingers
As enticing as it might be to want to lick the cake batter or other sweet mixture off your fingers, this isn’t proper food hygiene. Consuming raw foods can harm your health. Not to mention, it’s not sanitary. Make sure you have some hand towels nearby so your kids can immediately wipe messes off their fingers.
Clean As You Go
Keeping kitchen surfaces, cookware, and utensils clean is an essential part of keeping everyone safe. Instead of leaving the mess for later, it’s best to show your children how to clean as they go. When they’re finished using certain items, show them how to put things where they belong, clean the dishes (or load the dishwasher), and wash their hands. Chances are, after preparing their first meal, they’ll be more interested in seeing the finished product than cleaning up a mess.
While cooking is a fun activity for parents and children, health and safety must remain a priority. From germs, dirt, and bacteria to food contamination and handwashing techniques, you must have a talk with your children in advance. Let them know the risks of getting sick, and then show them how to minimize those risks. Now that you’ve learned a few valuable lessons about cooking with children and food hygiene, you’re ready to begin creating memories that will last a lifetime.