Mother and Baby

15 toddler food hygiene rules you really do need to follow

Section: Meals & Baking

Rather than panicking about the limited contents of your fridge and what you can cook for dinner without making your family ill, put your mind at ease by having a read of our expert-advised food safety rules

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1) The 10 second rule doesn’t count

We’ve all dropped a wooden spoon on the floor mid-cooking, but avoid the temptation to keep using it and instead wash it thoroughly with soap and hot water before reusing it. Even if you did clean your floors a few hours ago. 
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2) Wrap raw food up well

Avoid contaminating other food in your fridge by keeping your raw food separate and well wrapped. 
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3) Do the sniff test

If the meat or fish you’re hoping to use for dinner has a strong or unusual odour, it’s safer not to risk it throw away, as a bad smell probably means it’s gone off. 
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4) Invest in a food thermometer

This will be able to help you check the temperature of meat and fish before serving to make sure that it’s safe to eat. You can use this Food Safety chart to check what temperature each different food should be when it’s safe to eat. 
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5) Defrost food properly

If you’re cooking frozen food and it needs to be defrosting first, allow time for it to defrost in the fridge. ‘Frozen food shouldn’t sit on the worktop, or in the sink to defrost as bacteria will quickly grow,’ says Naomi Mead, nutritionist at Healthspan.
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6) Put leftovers in the fridge quickly

As tempting as it is to leave everything on the side after dinner and sort it out later, you should put most leftovers away as soon as possible – unless they’re hot and need to cool slightly before being put away. ‘If they are left on the worktop for too long, bacteria can quickly multiple,’ says Naomi. ‘Also, make sure everything is well covered.’ 
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7) Pack cleverly

Packing your tot’s lunchbox a little differently can make sure all of the food is kept as fresh and safe to eat as possible. ‘Try and pack perishable items like sandwiches with egg, ham or cheese next to a cold item such as an ice pack or cold drinks carton to help keep them chilled,’ says Naomi. 
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8) Wash hands

Teach your tot from a young age the importance of washing his hands before mealtimes - especially if he's going to help with food preparation. 
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9) Wipe down the tables

Make sure the kitchen table is wiped down and sanitized between every mealtime. ‘Also ensure the floor is swept so that there are no bits of food that young children may be tempted to pick up and eat!’ says Naomi. 
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10) Familiarise yourself with The Dirty Dozen

If you're worried about the pesticide or toxin levels in fruits and vegetables, check out The Dirty Dozen. ‘This is a list of the 12 fruits and vegetables with the highest pesticide levels. If you can, choose organic for these items,’ says Naomi. The list is as follows: 1. Apples 2. Strawberries 3. Grapes 4. Celery 5. Peaches 6. Spinach 7. Sweet bell peppers 8. Nectarines (imported) 9. Cucumbers 10. Cherry tomatoes 11. Snap peas (imported) 12. Potatoes
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11) Wash fruit and vegetables

Before you start preparing each meal, wash or scrub all of the fruit and vegetables you’re going to use thoroughly. ‘This will wash off any surface pesticides,’ says Naomi. If you’re pressed for time, holding the fruit or veg under running water is better than dunking it. 
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12) Heat food safely

If you’re heating up last night’s leftovers for lunch, make sure you take it out of it’s plastic tub and put it onto a glass or ceramic dish before putting in the microwave. ‘Heating plastic releases invisible toxins that may transfer into the food,’ says Naomi. 
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13) Don’t wash chicken

The British Food Safety Authority has recently announced that washing raw chicken can spread bacteria onto your hands, clothes and around the sink – increasing your risk of getting food poisoning. So instead, just cook your chicken straight from the pack. [Corbis]
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14) Use separate chopping boards

Use different chopping boards for meats and vegetables, to avoid cross contamination of bacteria. 
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15) Check jars are sealed

‘Listen for a popping sound when opening vacuum-sealed jars to be sure that they have been sealed properly,’ says Naomi. If it doesn't pop, don't use it. [Corbis]

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