It’s always a good idea to prioritize safe food handling and preparation, but during pregnancy and with small children around the house it’s vital. When pregnant, you’re more at risk for food-borne illnesses, while small children also need to be protected from germs and the spread of bacteria.
Here’s a list of tips to help keep your food - and your family - as safe as possible.
1. Wash your hands
This seems like a no-brainer because we’re told to wash our hands all the time, but you can never be reminded enough. Use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds each time or a Lysol hand sanitizer if you’re short on time.
Joe Rubino, Lysol’s Chief Microbiologist, explains the risks that come with food handling: “Raw food and meats could have salmonella and E. Coli, which could be very dangerous for babies.” If you’ve handled raw meat, poultry or eggs, it’s extra important to wash your hands afterwards as these items are notorious for spreading unwanted bacteria. You should also wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing your child’s diaper, being in public places and after playing with children or pets.
2. Clean your utensils
Another thing to keep in mind is to thoroughly clean all utensils, dishes and cutting boards after using them, especially if anything has come into contact with raw eggs, meat, seafood or poultry. It’s always best to designate one cutting board for raw food items so you’re sure not to spread bacteria from one surface to another.
3. Shop smart
While grocery shopping, separate your items. For example: keep all raw poultry, meat and seafood separate from other items in your cart. When putting meat and poultry in your fridge or your freezer, make sure to double wrap everything to avoid dripping.
4. Fridge rules
To keep your food safe in your fridge and freezer, they both need to be at the right temperatures. Make sure your fridge temperature is 40° F or below and your freezer at or below 0°. If you’ve purchased perishable foods, chill or freeze them within two hours of your purchase. Finally, make sure you thaw your foods in your fridge, not on the countertop. When cleaning your fridge, make sure to use hot, soapy water in order to kill any and all germs that may be lingering in there.
5. Turn up the heat
Keeping an eye on safety when you’re actually preparing your food is also, of course, necessary. Use a thermometer when preparing meat, and make sure to cook all meats thoroughly. Visit FIGHT BAC! Partnership for Food Safety Education (www.fightbac.org) for specific temperatures.
6. Never use cracked eggs
Plus, make sure to cook them until the yolk and white are firm, not runny.
All of these tips will help to keep unwanted bacteria from spreading throughout your kitchen and making you or your family sick.