Cooking can be a fun and educational experience for kids. However, parents should keep food safety rules in mind when doing a cooking activity with their children. Teaching basic food hygiene to kids now sets them up for the future and ensures the entire family can avoid infectious bacteria or food poisoning. Let’s look at 9 food hygiene tips to teach kids in the kitchen:
1. Wash their hands
Teaching your kids to wash their hands with soap before cooking is one of the fundamental rules of food hygiene. Make sure they understand that washing their hands before touching any food helps to prevent germs from spreading.
2. Look the part
Cooking doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Introduce some fun in the kitchen by getting your child their own apron. However, make sure their hair is tied back (if it’s long), their sleeves are rolled up and they’re not wearing any jewellery (real or fake) before getting started.
3. Cleaning up at the end
If your child now understands the dangerous nature of germs and how to keep them away, it’s time to teach them the importance of cleaning any surfaces and utensils after they’ve finished preparing or cooking their food. Make sure you don’t do this for them! Get your child involved by showing them how to spray down and wipe the surfaces clean.
4. Use different chopping boards
It’s important to teach your kids the concept of using different chopping boards for different food types. To help with this, you can buy chopping boards in different colours and use yellow for cooked meat, red for raw meat, brown for vegetables, green for fruit and salads, blue for raw fish and white for dairy products and bread, for example.
5. Separate raw food from cooked food
Explain to your kid that keeping cooked foods and raw foods separate is important for food hygiene, especially in the case of meat. For example, you could explain that if cold cooked food comes into contact with raw food and it isn’t heated up again, harmful bacteria could make anyone who eats it sick.
6. Avoid licking their fingers
We’ve all been there and understand how hard it is to resist the temptation to lick our fingers, but it’s important to set a good example. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging your kids to taste the food they’ve made, but make sure they use a spoon and encourage them not to return the licked spoon to the bowl of food. One way to reduce the temptation is to keep a kitchen towel close by at all times to wipe sticky fingers.
7. Cook food properly
It’s important to teach your child that not all food items and ingredients have the same cooking times. A food thermometer that displays the different levels for particular types of food can be a good way to illustrate this. You should also explain that half-cooked or raw food could lead to stomach pain, diarrhoea and vomiting due to the presence of living bacteria and parasites.
8. Organise the fridge
To prevent cross-contamination, it’s important to follow some basic food hygiene rules. To help your kid learn how to organise food in a fridge safely, begin by having them draw some images of the different food types. Then explain to them how each item of food differs from the other and where in the fridge each food type should be kept. To help them remember, why not stick the drawings on the front of the fridge in the right position? Alternatively, you could label or colour coordinate the shelves.
9. Storing food correctly
Finally, why not take the opportunity to educate your child on why they need to store different types of foods at different temperatures? Use some basic items like milk, frozen peas and tins of beans to show what needs to be stored in the fridge, what should be kept frozen and what can be left in the cupboard.
Ultimately, the best way to teach good food hygiene practices to kids is to make the process fun. To avoid making any mistakes while teaching your kids how to prepare food according to basic hygiene rules, we recommend that you join one of our food safety online courses. There, you can learn how to maintain excellent food safety practices and also get a food handling certificate.