How to Explain Food Safety to Your Child

Food safety is an issue that affects us all, regardless of age, and it encompasses a lot more than the ill-advised “three-second rule” after food hits the floor.

Every year, 3,000 people die from eating contaminated food, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 48 million people get sick. Foodborne illnesses are such a burden on public health that The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion is committed to reducing it in the United States. Food safety is an issue adults can easily understand, but kids may not, so how do you explain it to them?

Fortunately, the USDA provides a variety of resources to help parents and educators explain and teach kids about a variety of food safety topics. Resources include:

  • A fun, activity book that explains the four basic steps of food safety:
  • Clean: Wash hands, utensils and surfaces often when cooking.
  • Separate: Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs separate from cooked food and fresh produce.
  • Cook: Use a food thermometer to ensure foods are cooked to an internal temperature that kills germs.
  • Chill: Put perishable foods and leftovers in the fridge within two hours or chill within one hour if it’s above 90 degrees. 
  • An interactive, food safety mobile game that takes kids on a ride through Safe Food Park.
  • Information on measures kids can take to prevent foodborne illnesses when preparing after school snacks.
  • Puzzles, word searches, coloring and activity pages, articles, other recommended sources, and more.

You can also visit the Partnership for Food Safety Education for additional ways to teach your kids about preventing food poisoning. Or, check out the new guide from Food Safety News about teaching kids food safety in the kitchen.

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