Food safety tips should be taught early, to even the youngest of cooks, including pre-teens and teens. By teaching food safety tips early on your young cooks can enjoy food they prepared themselves, without worry of getting sick.
1. Food Safety and Hand Washing
The number one kitchen safety tip to teach your young cooks is to wash their hands, before, during and after meal preparation. Explain the importance of washing hands first, before touching any food or utensils, especially when food will be eaten by others.
When the cooking involves raw meats or eggs, also be sure the teen washes their hands in between cooking stages to avoid contaminating any other food items or utensils and dishes in the kitchen.
2. Washing Fresh Food for Food Safety
Teach pre-teens and teens that all fresh fruits and vegetables need to be washed and dried before cooking, or eating raw. This includes the exterior of any fruit that is sliced, including melons. Even though the rind is not eaten, the knife will come in contact with the exterior rind and peel as well as the internal fruit.
Vegetables also need to be washed, especially when eaten raw. Salad greens should also be dried with a Salad Spinner, or simply withpaper towels.
3. Using Senses to Check for Freshness
Parents try to keep only the freshest of foods available in the fridge. Sometimes deli meats or other products can go bad more quickly than expected. Teach pre-teens and teens to use their senses of sight and smell when it comes to checking for food freshness. If they are unsure about the freshness, they should not eat it.
When deli meat does not smell like what it is, or has a slightly slimy feel to it, it is time to toss it out.
If some leftovers are unrecognizable, they should also be skipped.
4. Food Safety and the Cutting Board
Show your pre-teen and teen the different cutting boards for fresh foods and for raw meats. Explain why they are not and should not be interchangeable.
5. Dish Washing and Food Safety
Pre-teens and teens should be taught how to hand wash dishes with mildly hot water, soap and a sponge. Dishes should not be kept in a soaking sink, as that simply transfers bacteria.
6. Expiration Dates and Food Safety
Gets pre-teens and teens in the habit of checking expiration dates or “use by” dates on dairy products before they eat them. Hopefully all of the expiration dates are a ways away, but sometimes these things slip by.
Also have them check expiration dates on mayonnaise or mayonnaise-based salad dressings before using them.
By teaching pre-teens and teens about food safety early in life, you are providing them with a basis for healthy eating.