Are Your Children Being Poisoned In Your Own Kitchen?

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We love our kids and, as naughty and as tiring as they can be, there's absolutely nothing we won't do to ensure their safety and happiness.

Which is why all parents feel a knot of anxiety in their stomachs when they turn on the news and see children suffering with diseases.

And it's why we are understandably very angry when sometimes the cause of these children's misery are commercial companies or governments.

In the United States, however, the sad truth is, there is a much higher likelihood of your children being poisoned right inside your own home, then it is for them to pick up illnesses elsewhere.

Now, we're not saying this to scare you! But the facts are, 1 in 10 people become ill from food poisoning every year. A tenth of the whole population!

Many of these people recover as adults have fully fledged immune systems. But children, especially those under 5, are yet to have our robust immunity, and food poisoning that is 'horrible' for an adult could potentially be 'life threatening' for a child.

As this week is National Poison Prevention Week, and today is specifically about 'Home Safe Home', we've created a round up of things you could do right now in your home and kitchen that will ensure your child is not accidentally positioned:

1) Clean your fridge – Spilled foods is common in any fridge, specifically when you have little ones! Make sure you clean up spills immediately to avoid contamination with other foods in the fridge.

Remember, the cold temperature in a fridge slows down the growth of bacteria (which is why we store foods in a fridge so they keep for longer). But the cold temperature does not stop bacteria growth altogether.

The longer you leave anything spilled in the fridge, the greater the chance of bacteria still being able to contaminate other foods.

2) Check the temperature in your fridge - The safe temperature zone for your fridge should be between 32°F and 39°F. Check your fridge and make sure its temperature falls between these two figures.

Many people simply assume that their fridge is doing a great job. But older fridges may be malfunctioning.

And even a new fridge can't do it's job of keeping your foods cold (and therefore slowing down bacteria growth) if there are issues with the door seals. So make sure your fridge door is airtight and the temperature is in the safe zone.

3) Wash your hands often – Most people certainly think of washing their hands just before they start to prepare or handle foods.

Where mistakes are made is when we are 'interrupted' from our kitchen work.

This happens all the time in a household with children / pets. E.g. baby needs changing, a child runs into the kitchen with muddy, soiled clothes, a family pet comes in wanting to be stroked etc.

Get into the habit of not just washing hands before you start to prepare foods, but washing hands again if you leave the kitchen, or do something other than handling foods.

Also, make sure you wash hands in between handling different foods. E.g. handling meat first and then handling vegetables.


4) Place leftover cooked foods in fridge within 2 hours – We have a natural belief that once foods are cooked, it is safe.

It is safe (it's why we cook foods!) But it only remains 'safe' for about 2 hours (and with some foods, such as leftover meat, only about an hour).

Get into the habit of placing cooked foods, that are not to be eaten straight away, into the fridge as soon as they have cooled down.

DO NOT put hot cooked foods into a fridge, however, as it will bring the general temperature of the fridge up, and may make it warmer than the recommended safe temperature zone above.

5) Don't be a martyr and cook for your family when you are sick – Parents especially feel the need to 'solider on' when they are sick. This is fine, but not when it comes to cooking for your family.

Your bugs can easily transfer into foods you are preparing. So try to find someone else to cook, or even get your family some takeaway food.

At Chef Remi, we're real advocates of families cooking home-cooked meals, and avoiding per-prepared, processed foods.

However, when you are ill, the chances of you contaminating your family is now a higher risk than them eating a few processed meals. Allow yourself to have a few days off from cooking!

6) Have 2 cutting boards and do not swap them – Have one cutting board for meats / fish, and a separate one for vegetables.

No board, whatever material it is made from, can guarantee that 100% of bacteria is removed after washing, even when thrown into a dishwasher.

Mark one of the boards as your meat / fish board so you know which is which and they never get swapped.

Also, wooden cutting boards have been proven to draw bacteria away from the surface, deep into the board, which makes them much safer than synthetic boards. So make sure you buy two wooden cutting boards.

7) Cook anything made from ground meat well - If you like a rare steak, it may seem natural to ask for a rare burger.

Anything made with ground meat needs to be cooked through to at least 'medium' level, and preferably to 'well done', especially if serving to children, women who are pregnant, and anyone who has a compromised immune system.

Why? A steak (or any other piece of solid meat) will only have bacteria on the outside. By searing a piece of steak, you kill this bacteria.

Anything made from ground meat, however, such as a burger, will have had the bacteria distributed all the way inside by the meat grinder.

It's simply not enough to cook ground meat so it looks 'done' on the outside. It needs to be atleast 170°F right at the center of the food.

How do you know something has cooked to at least 170°F? Invest in a good cooking thermometer. Otherwise, you are literally just guessing!

Most people recover from food poisoning, even children. So please don't overly worry about poisoning in your home.

Just implement the above tips and make them into a habit, and you can be sure your children and loved ones are always safe.

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