If your children are old enough and responsible enough, you may decide to let them stay by themselves after they get home from school. If you’ve made this decision, though, you need to make sure that they’re able to remain safe during this time. That means locking the door and not letting in strangers, but it also means staying safe from something that might go overlooked: food.
You may be attuned to food safety, but your children may not be as keen on proper preparation procedures. It’s important to stress these precautions to your children, and that might be accomplished by talking to them about some of the food safety tips from the Food Safety and Inspection Service included in a new report.
First, make sure that your children know the safest manner in which to use cooking instruments, especially the microwave. Many kids want to simply pop something in the microwave after school, and that’s fine so long as they know how to use the device safely.
Don’t take for granted that your children will know not to place metal objects inside the microwave. Instruct them on this important safety rule, and designate a section of your kitchen for microwavable utensils and plates so that your children won’t have to wonder if they’re doing things right.
Your child must also follow the guidelines described on the labels of all items. That way, they can rest assured that the item has been thoroughly cooked. When in doubt, always cook a little longer, especially if the wattage on the microwave doesn’t match up with the suggested level on the package. Cook leftovers thoroughly, letting them sit for a minute or two upon completion, and make sure that everything is covered yet has room for the emanation of steam.
There are certain items that your child shouldn’t attempt to eat or even heat up in the microwave, regardless of how appetizing they may sound at that time. If your children have leftovers from school lunch that were prepared that morning, that’s far too long of a time period for a perishable item to go unrefrigerated, so it needs to be tossed out. Stress that anything that has been left out for over a couple hours, even if it looks fine, shouldn’t be chanced. Also teach your children about the importance of checking the expiration dates on all products before they consume them.
When all of this is complete, you still have the last piece of the puzzle to consider: your children themselves. They can drag contaminants into the kitchen that can trigger an illness, so make sure that the kitchen is a clean zone, free of various school items, and that your children always wash their hands before eating or making food.