January 21, 2018

As School Winds Down, Teach Kids About Food Safety

The school year is almost over. Many children are at home by themselves over the summer, since many parents work full time. That means they are preparing their own food. Now is the perfect time to teach them about food safety.

Fight Bac!┬áhas prepared an educational program for educators “to raise awareness of the dangers of microbiological pathogens that can cause food poisoning.” The program is designed for students in grades 3-5 and their families, but it’s a good tool for older children as well. You can download PDFs of classroom activities, an educator’s script, a PowerPoint quiz in English and Spanish, and a “Ten Least Wanted Pathogens” poster. A new iPhone game designed for kids called “Perfect Picnic” about eating outdoors and food safety is going to be released any day.

During a webinar sponsored by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, Shelley Feist, the director of that organization, said that half of all foodborne illness infections occur in children under the age of 15. A Canadian study found that 33% of 5th graders prepare their own snacks or help with meal preparation. Furthermore, research shows that most adults think a foodborne illness will not happen to their family, despite the numbers: 1 in 6 Americans will contract a foodborne illness every year.

Ms. Feist said a study conducted at UC Davis found that most food safety practices are not followed in the home. The study, conducted by Dr. Christine Bruhn, found that 32% of consumers didn’t wash their hands after handling raw meat (something I see on The Food Network all the time). Moreover, cross contamination occurred in 74% of observed households, with an average of 35 occurrences per household. Thirty percent of fridges in the study were set above 41 degrees F. And 76% of consumers do not use a food thermometer to check the final temperature of hamburgers; only 13% knew the recommended final internal temperature for ground beef.

So education of children in this area is crucial. Fight Bac! has developed Fight Bac! at Picnic Park for educators to use. And keep kids safe this summer and for the rest of their lives.

 

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