The food we eat plays an important role in the health of not only the child but the family as a whole. If we are not cautious about the food we ingest, there are increased chances of contracting some food borne diseases. These types of food related diseases generally affect the digestive system. Especially in case of children who have yet not got fully developed immune system the chances of their getting sick are much more.
It is essential that the food we serve to the children should not only be tasty but it should be nutritive and clean and free from bacteria. Food safety starts from the time of buying till final eating. To enable your child to be healthy it is necessary to keep in mind the following food safety tips:
Food safety activities begins right from the market: The first operation we do before serving the food to the kids is buying it from market. Ensure that you buy food from a good store. The food should be fresh. In case you buy frozen food it is necessary to ensure that it remains frozen till the time it enters your fridge or freezer. In case you are buying packaged food ensure to see the expiry date which is by law required to be printed on packed and processed food. Eggs should not be cracked. If during transit they get cracked do not keep them for cooking for next day. Fruits should not have broken skin. Juices should not be unpasteurized, prefer to buy juices in tetra packs.
Refrigeration: When home you need to properly preserve the food. The fridge should be set so as to maintain a temperature of 50°F and freezer at – 180°F. At these set of temperatures bacteria does not grow. Ensure that the thermostat of your fridge is working properly. Simple rules should be followed for preservation of food. Never keep meat and non meat products together. These should be packed separately. Meat and vegetables should not be kept for too long in the freezer before cooking. Try to store for minimum possible time. Never exceed storage time of four months for meat items.
Cleaning vegetables: Before cooking ensure to clean the fruits and vegetables under running water. This will help remove residue of pesticides if any, bacteria and dirt etc. Scrub the outer layer of firm vegetables like carrot, cucumber etc. Remove the outer layers of vegetables having lots of layers of leaves.
For non-vegetarian food: Process raw meat separately and do not mix it with vegetables. It will be better to keep a separate chopping board for meat products. When you remove any product from the freezer and thaw it, cook it immediately and do not deep freeze it again. Thoroughly cook eggs and meat products. Never serve uncooked meat products to your kids, beef and poultry products should be cooked till they do not remain pink. While cooking on a grill meat should be turned and cooked on all sides.
Kitchen cleanliness: Maintaining cleanliness is a very important part of cooking. Wash your hands properly before cooking. The chopping board and kitchen slab should be cleaned properly. Leftovers should be immediately put inside the refrigerator. All cooking and serving utensils should be properly washed and wiped. Ensure that there are no food particles which remain sticking to the curved parts of cutlery etc. Be very particular about sponges used for washing dish. These have pores and are a perfect breeding ground for bacteria as food particles could remain in the pores. Every time after use clean sponges properly and they should dry before being used the next time.
- Salad served with meals should be made using vegetables which have been properly washed to remove dirt and bacteria. Even if you have to peel off the outer layer of any item of food it should be properly washed. Keeping in mind that you are to serve balanced food to your children is also necessary.
- In case some food is left it needs to be kept in fridge immediately. Ensure that the utensil in which the cooked food is kept is covered. If it has not got a cover you can use aluminum foil to cover it. If after a party etc lot of leftovers are there and you feel that the food will be used over a period of days, it will be better to freeze the cooked food in small utensils and one can be removed and consumed in one serving.
Keeping these simple rules in mind you will ensure that you are serving clean and healthy food to your child which will keep him healthy.