Food safety tips for hungry kids

With school back in full swing, it's important to remind your children about food safety.

With the summer season winding down and school back in session, Michigan State University Extension suggests you remind your children about the importance of proper food safety practices.

These simple tips can help keep children healthy throughout the school year:

  • Kids should wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds once they get home from school. Consider making it a rule that handwashing is done right after school to prevent the spread of germs.
  • If kids are riding the bus home, keep a package of sanitizing wipes in their backpack so they can clean their hands before snacking on the bus. Also, be sure to help your children understand what foods can be kept in their lunch bag after lunch to safely snack on later, and what foods should be thrown away after lunch is over. All perishable foods (foods that must be refrigerated) must be thrown away after lunch unless the lunch bag is kept in a refrigerator, cooler or has a cold source inside that is still cold.
  • Some kids get off the bus to an empty house, so a great idea for safe and healthy snacking is to have an area in your refrigerator or pantry labeled as “afterschool snacks” so kids know what to eat when they get home. Make sure your children remember to keep all perishable snack foods in the refrigerator after serving themselves.
  • Keep your refrigerator cleaned out so kids don’t find leftover items inside that have been stored too long and could be unsafe for consumption.
  • If older kids are reheating leftovers or preparing simple food items, help them learn to read label directions for proper cooking and learn to use a thermometer to check food temperatures when cooking or reheating.
  • Keep your children’s backpacks off of food-contact surfaces, such as tables and counters, since they are exposed to germs at school such as in lockers, gym floors and bus floors.

Following these tips will help ensure you and your family avoid foodborne illness. To learn more about food safety practices visit MSU Extension’s Safe Food & Water page.

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