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10 Commandments For Kitchen Safety
“Nonna, can I wash the dishes?” pleaded Ally, my eight-year-old granddaughter. Like most kids, Ally likes to help in the kitchen. Although he enjoys washing dishes, I guarantee that in four or five years the sight of dirty dishes will no longer be so exciting. Helping with the dishes these days is fun because you learn how things work. By helping in the kitchen, you learn to appreciate whole foods and what makes them nutritious.
Involving children in food preparation gives them the opportunity to have more sensory experiences with different foods. This is especially valuable when introducing new foods or when changing a family’s diet from processed foods to whole foods. In fact, multi-sensory learning is essential when turning a picky eater into a healthy eater.
So how can you avoid common kitchen hazards, especially for children? As valuable as the tactile experience of appreciating nutritious food is when children help in the kitchen, it only takes a moment for an accident to happen. Injuries and possible food poisoning are less likely if you follow these wise tips.
1. Always wash your hands with soap and water before handling food.
This applies to anyone who works in the kitchen. Germs can spread easily if hands are not cleaned properly. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds. Rubbing your hands under water is just as important as soap for cleanliness. Make it a game with kids. Sing the alphabet song while washing your hands. Make it educational by counting down twenty seconds with your child while washing their hands. When your youngster can count to twenty alone; count backwards from twenty to one.
2. Use a sturdy step stool so your child can reach the counter comfortably.
Children love to help, and their involvement in the kitchen is essential to their appreciation of food. Buy a sturdy step stool to prevent falls and injuries.
3. Never let children eat raw eggs.
Children love to lick the dough off the spoon when making cookies. However, salmonella from raw eggs is a serious concern. Explain that it’s better to taste the cookie after it’s baked so you don’t get sick.
4. Warn children about the dangers of hot stoves and ovens.
Always be careful when small children are near hot surfaces. Many accidents are preventable. Burns from hot water and hot ovens are two of them. Keep cooking appliance cords out of harm’s way. Always keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. To extinguish smaller fires, sprinkle baking soda over the flame. If the fat in the pan starts to flame, cover the pan to cut off the oxygen supply. Turn off the heat.
5. Point the handles of pots and pans toward the back or center of the stove.
This habit is very easy to start. This simple step prevents lively children (and adults) from touching the handle sticking out of the stove and spilling the scalding contents. Even though my kids are grown, I still direct the handles to the back or center of the stove. Just so I don’t accidentally burn myself!
6. Keep kitchen work surfaces clean.
Many times the “flu” that runs through your family is actually food poisoning. You can negate this by thoroughly washing kitchen surfaces. Use surface cleaners containing bleach to disinfect countertops and other work areas. Or add half a teaspoon of bleach to a spray bottle filled with water and spray it on the countertops to disinfect. Keep purses and other items away from prep surfaces as they carry germs. Be sure to disinfect the kitchen faucet handles when scrubbing the sink.
7. Avoid cross-contamination of food.
Never put cooked meat on a plate that once held raw meat. Wash knives and cutting boards between using meats, dairy products and produce.
8. Wash the dishcloth and change the sponges often.
Buy seven kitchen towels. This way you will have a clean towel for every day of the week. The sponge is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. After use, press it dry and let it air dry. Change the sponges once a week. During the week, disinfect the sponge by rinsing it, wring it dry, then place it in the microwave for two minutes.
9. Always wash fruits and vegetables.
Wash vegetables and fruits before putting them in the refrigerator. So they were pre-cleaned, making it easier to prepare food. Kids can enjoy a healthy snack without worrying about harmful bacteria lurking on the surface. Also, bacteria on food will multiply quickly if it is left at temperatures between 45F and 140F. Avoid this danger zone by cooling cooked food as quickly as possible. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers immediately after dinner to prevent bacteria from forming in the food.
10. Be careful with knives.
It is clear that sharp objects are a danger to small children. Keep all knives away from children. Small children and preschoolers like to spread soft butter, cream cheese and nut butter. Small hands can easily use the plastic containers, the types bought for picnics and barbecues.
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