Safety in the Kitchen

Involving children and teens in cooking and preparing meals is a great way for them to have fun and learn about healthy eating and nutrition. However, the kitchen can be a dangerous place so it is important to create a safe learning environment, as well as teach them how to handle food safely and hygienically.

Personal Hygiene & Safety

  • Always wash your hands carefully with soap and water before and after you prepare or handle food. Wash them anytime your hands become self-contaminated, for example after sneezing and coughing into your hand or after using the washroom.
  • Always wash your hands before handling food and after handling meat or poultry. Hands can transfer bacteria that can make you or your family sick!
  • Never cook in loose clothes, roll-up long sleeves and keep long hair tied back. You don’t want anything accidentally catching fire or hair ending up in the food!
  • Never cook while wearing dangling jewelry. A bracelet can get tangled around pot handles.
  • Don’t handle food with open sores or cuts on your hand. Thin plastic gloves or finger cots are the best solution in this case.

Food Safety

  • Cook all meats – including hot dogs and sausages – poultry, seafood and eggs thoroughly. Reheat cooked foods so they are warm all the way through.
  • Protect your food. Insects, rodents and other animals including pets can carry germs. Store nonperishable foods (foods that don’t need to be refrigerated) in closed containers in a safe dry place.
  • Don’t let temperature-sensitive foods sit out in the kitchen. Raw meat, fish, and certain dairy products can spoil quickly, so refrigerate or freeze them if they won’t be eaten right away. Bacteria will grow if food is left out at room temperature.
  • Cooked meals be kept up to 3 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer
  • Separate raw meat and poultry from other items whenever you use or store them. This precaution avoids cross-contamination of harmful bacteria from one food to another.
  • Separate raw foods from cooked foods to avoid cross contamination.
  • Thoroughly rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water, especially if they are to be served uncooked. Lettuce, spinach and other salad greens need particular attention

Kitchen Safety

  • Use hot water and soap to clean all dishes, utensils, cutting boards, and counters that are in contact with food before and after each use. Don’t put cooked food on an unwashed plate or cutting board that held raw food. Always use a clean plate.
  • Store knives in a wooden block or in a drawer. Make sure the knives are out of the reach of children.
  • Always pick up knives by their handle and do not point them at anyone. Be sure to only use a knife when an adult is close by and with permission.
  • Don’t put knives or other sharp objects in a sink full of water. Someone could reach in and get hurt.
  • Keep potholders and oven mitts nearby and use them! Be careful not to leave them near an open flame.
  • Turn pot handles away from the front of the stove. Children can’t grab them, and adults can’t bump into them if they’re out of the way.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Keep the floor dry so that no one slips and falls.
  • Get a fire extinguisher for your kitchen. This device may not do much for your cherries jubilee, but it can avert a disaster. Make sure you know how to use it before a fire breaks out. You can’t waste any time reading the directions amidst the flames.
  • If you can’t quite reach the countertop, ask someone for help or use a sturdy step to help.
  • Keep cabinet doors and drawers closed so you won’t bump into them.
  • Keep electrical cords away from the stovetop, oven and sink.
  • Before leaving the kitchen, check that the oven and burners are all turned off.
  • Never put water on a cooking fire – it could make the fire bigger. Call for an adult to help and use baking soda or flour to put the fire out. Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and known how to use it!
  • Never add water to a pan with hot oil in it. It could splatter and burn someone.
  • Do not put metal of any kind in the microwave.

Check out this great, interactive video from British Columbia Health on Kitchen and Food Safety.
Sources: Caring for Kids, Fresh Choice Kitchens, Dummies, BC Health

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