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Health Information For Parents
It used to be that you just had to worry about convincing kids to eat the fruits and vegetables they need to grow healthy and strong. But reports about outbreaks of E. coli and salmonella remind us of another concern — making sure fresh produce is safe to eat.
Even with the risk of foodborne illnesses, it’s important for kids to eat fruits and vegetables every day to get essential vitamins and nutrients. For example, fruits like oranges provide vitamin C, which helps heal cuts and wounds. Vegetables like broccoli contain dietary fiber, which can help keep cholesterol down and bowel movements regular.
The good news is that it’s easy to make sure that the produce you buy and prepare is safe.
Regardless of the variety of produce you pick — whether it’s bagged or loose, organic or traditionally grown — there’s always going to be some chance, however small, that harmful bacteria may have gotten on the food. It can happen anywhere between the fields and your kitchen, during picking, transporting, or packaging.
The safeguards you can take begin when you’re selecting produce at the store or produce stand. Be sure to inspect fruits and vegetables before you buy them, and avoid any with visible cuts or broken skin where bacteria could enter.
Also keep these things in mind:
You’ve probably seen the term “Certified Organic” on USDA labels indicating that a product was grown or made without pesticides, synthetic ingredients, or bioengineering. However, bacterial contamination is possible whether the produce is certified organic or conventionally grown.
To safely store produce, make sure your refrigerator and freezer are cold enough to keep it fresh and prevent any bacteria in it from thriving. Keep your refrigerator set between 32°F (0°C) and 40°F (5°C) and your freezer to 0°F (–18°C) or lower. If they don’t have thermostats, consider buying one for each.
When you prepare fresh produce, these steps will help ensure that it’s safe to eat:
Though commercial produce washes are available, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend washing produce with them. Following the recommendations above and washing your hands, dishes, utensils, and the surfaces in your kitchen should work just fine. Periodically sanitizing cutting boards and kitchen surfaces can offer added protection.
Rest assured that while fresh produce, meat, and fish do carry some contamination risk, with the proper precautions you can reduce that risk and enjoy them safely.
Washing your hands is the best way to stop germs from spreading. Learn all about the best way to wash your hands in this article for kids.
Cooking and baking are lots of fun – as long as you stay safe. Read this article for safety tips before you head into the kitchen.
Did you know that the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands? If you don’t wash your hands frequently, you can pick up germs from other sources and then infect yourself.
Learn why food safety is important and how you can avoid the spread of bacteria when you are buying, preparing, and storing food.
Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection and severe diarrhea. Here’s how to protect yourself.
Germs are tiny organisms that can cause disease – and they’re so small that they can creep into your system without you noticing. Find out how to protect yourself.
The germs that get into food and cause food poisoning are tiny, but can have a powerful effect on the body. Find out what to do if you get food poisoning – and how to prevent it.
Did you ever eat something that made you feel ooky? It might have been food poisoning.
People often think of salmonellosis as food poisoning, but food is only one way the bacteria Salmonella can be spread.
Salmonellosis is an illness caused by a bacteria found in raw food, soil, water and the bowel movements of some animals, including reptiles. Find out how to prevent this illness.
Did you ever eat something off the floor? Uh-oh. Time to read this article for kids about the 5-second rule.
Why is food safety important? And how can you be sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe?
What you put in the grocery cart can affect your child’s health and attitude toward nutritious food.
Sometimes, germs can get into food and cause food poisoning. Find out what to do if your child gets food poisoning – and how to prevent it.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Undercooked burgers and unwashed produce are among the foods that can harbor E. coli bacteria and lead to infection marked by severe diarrhea. Here’s how to protect your family.
Salmonellosis is a foodborne illness caused by the bacteria salmonella. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, fever, and headache.
Washing your hands well and often is the best way to keep from getting sick. Here’s how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating contaminated food. It mostly affects pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. Here’s how to protect your family.
These bacterial infections can cause diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever. Good hand-washing and food safety habits can help prevent them.
Learn about bacterial infections, foodborne illnesses, and conditions that affect the nervous system.
Yersiniosis is an uncommon infection caused by the consumption of undercooked meat products, unpasteurized milk, or water contaminated by the bacteria.
Germs are the microscopic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa that can cause disease.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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