Protecting Your Children from Holiday Food Poisoning
Like any parent, you’re scouring the Internet searching for ways to keep your kids safe this holiday season. You’ve read the articles about slip and fall accidents on the ice, getting hit by cars, and contracting pneumonia or serious bouts of the flu. You know the rules about hand washing, nose blowing, and other ways of preventing the spread of germs. But there’s one more culprit out there that you might have to worry about this holiday season: food poisoning.
Food poisoning can happen just about anywhere. It can happen at home, school, daycare, the afterschool program, the babysitter’s, restaurants, and other locations where your child comes into contact with foods and drinks that have been prepared by another person. Food poisoning is caused by bacteria such as E. Coli that spreads when food is prepared on unclean counters, with unclean hands, or with unclean utensils. It also occurs in undercooked foods or when foods are cross-contaminated in an effort to make the process go faster.
Helping to Protect Your Child from Holiday Food Poisoning
While you can’t stop your child’s risk of contracting food poisoning completely — you can’t stop them from eating — there are many things that you can do to help minimize the risk that they will ingest foods that have been improperly prepared.
- Always ensure that you cook foods like chicken, beef, and pork completely through for your children and never cook these foods in any way other than well done.
- When you prepare foods at home, ensure that you do not cross-contaminate foods by cleaning counters between foods, and not mixing uncooked meats with uncooked produce.
- Do not allow your children to eat home cooked foods brought to school by other students unless you already know the family.
- Send your child’s meals and snacks with them wherever they go so you can be certain that you know where your child’s meals are coming from.
Around the holidays it can be easy to let your child’s nutrition slide. But remember, allowing your child to eat more treats is not the same as allowing your child to eat treats from a kitchen you’re not familiar with.