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Friday, November 22, 2013
Food safety tips
Food Safety Tips
It is certainly not a sterile world, and as soon as they are able, your baby will start putting anything that they can reach into their mouths. (You can't even begin to imagine the phone calls we get about the more disgusting items that some of our little patients have managed to get their hands..and mouths on.)
So yes, the world is full of germs, and while I don't generally get too concerned about a little dirt here and a big sloppy dog kiss there, food-borne bacteria are especially nasty and we need to minimize any exposure.
Infants and young children are particularly vulnerable to food-borne illness because their immune systems are not developed enough to fight off infections.
That is why extra care should be taken when handling and preparing their food and formula.
This is especially important for infants under 6 months of age.
Here are some basic food safety guidelines:
*Wash hands for at least 20 seconds before food preparation. Soap is best. Hand sanitizer will do. Re wash as needed after handling food that might carry germs (poultry, meat, raw eggs)
*Make sure kitchen towels and sponged are changed and cleaned frequently (sponges can go through the dishwasher)
*Keep your refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees or colder and your freezer below 0 degrees.
(One way to make sure that the Freezer has continued to have safe temps is to freeze a baggie filled with ice cubes....If they remain cubes, you are in good shape, if they melt and refreeze as a block of ice that means that at some point your freezer was not cold enough)
Label things in your freezer and rotate so that you are using up older stuff first.
*check the dates of baby food jars and make sure the lid pops when you open them
*Don't "double dip" with baby food: Never put baby food back in the refrigerator if your child doesn't finish it.
Your best bet: Don't feed your baby directly from the jar. Instead, put a small serving of food on a clean dish. Add more as needed with a clean spoon. Remember that once saliva has come into contact with the food it is no longer sterile and some bacteria can grow quickly.
*Don't leave open containers of liquid or pureed baby food out at room temperature for more than two hours.
Bacteria thrive in temperatures between 40-140 degrees
*Don't store opened baby food in refrigerator for more than three days.
If you are not sure that the food is still safe, remember this saying: "If in doubt, throw it out"
(see links below for guidelines on how long food stays safe)
*Make sure that foods are properly cooked. A food thermometer is the best tool for this.
Chicken ( white meat/ dark meat)...170/180
For all of you "older kids" who will be baking this holiday season.
Watch out for batter. (I am a notorious offender), but
even one lick from raw food containing a contaminated egg can get you ill.
Myth: Freezing food kills harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning
Fact: bacteria can survive freezing temperatures. When food is thawed, bacteria can still be present and can begin to multiply.
Cooking food to the proper internal temperature is the best way to make sure any bacteria is killed.
Myth: vegetarians don't need to worry about food poisoning
Fact: Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but like other foods they may carry a risk of food-borne illness.
Always rinse produce well under running tap water.
Never eat the pre-washed 'ready to eat' greens if they are past their freshness date or if they appear slimy
Myth: Plastic or glass cutting boards don't hold harmful bacteria on their surfaces like wooden cutting boards do.
Fact: Any type of cutting board can hold harmful bacteria on its surface. Regardless of the type of cutting board you use, it should be washed and sanitized after each use. Solid plastic, tempered glass, sealed granite, and hardwood cutting boards are dishwasher safe. However, wood laminates don't hold up well in the dishwasher. Once cutting boards of any type become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, they should be discarded.
Myth: Locally-grown, organic foods will never give you food poisoning.
Fact: Any food, whether organic or conventional, could become unsafe with illness-causing foodborne bacteria at any point during the chain from the farm to the table. Consumers in their homes can take action to keep their families safe. That is why it is important to reduce your risk of foodborne illness by practicing the four steps: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.
Some excellent resources for food safety tips are
www.foodsafety.gov (this site keeps track of any food recalls)
www.Stilltasty.com (great site for seeing how long food will last)
www.fightbac.org (this site has loads of kid friendly activities)
Posted by Nurse Judy at 10:41 AM