Parents with school-aged children know to keep their pantries stocked.  Kids come home from school and immediately look for something to eat. snack-girl-eating carrot.jpgIf your child is home alone after school, reviewing these steps can go a long way to ensuring the snacks he prepares for himself are safe from foodborne pathogens and other kitchen dangers:

  1. Backpacks should be placed on the floor, not on kitchen counters.
  2. Washing hands thoroughly with warm water and soap before touching food can prevent germs from your hands from contaminating food and kitchen surfaces.
  3. Wash fruit and vegetables under cold running water before eating it.
  4. Cooked foods should not be put on the same plate that held raw meat or poultry.
  5. Hands should always be washed with warm water and soap after you’ve touched raw meat or poultry.
  6. Lunch meat and deli meat must be refrigerated.
  7. Food should not be left out for more than 2 hours.
  8. Eating home-made food that contains eggs is only safe if it is cooked.

Parents should take time to evaluate their kitchen set-up.  A microwave is better placed on a low counter, where the risk of a child spilling hot soup on herself is lower than the risk if the microwave is placed on a high shelf or on top of the refrigerator. Other kitchen safety tips include keeping your refrigerator temperature at 40 degrees Fahrenheit; refrigerating leftovers in shallow containers immediately after it is served; sanitize kitchen sinks and surfaces after handling raw meat and poultry; always use separate cutting boards for raw meat and other foods, and wash cutting boards thoroughly with soap and water after use; defrost meat, poultry, and fish products in the refrigerator or microwave. The Food and Drug Administration provides additional home food safety advice on its Website.