photograph of children eating bread

Food Safety

As children develop it is important to know about certain foods that could be unsafe for them, and pay close attention to food hygiene.

Foods unsafe for young children:

  • It is generally recommended that nuts and seeds are avoided for children under the age of 3 (some countries recommend to avoid nuts up to the age of 7). Guidelines differ from country to country in regard to recommendations on the introduction of allergenic foods such as nuts. Some countries, such as Australia, the UK and the USA suggest that thinly spread nut pastes can be offered to children over the age of around 6 months
  • Some raw hard or round vegetables and fruits can also be a choking hazard for younger children. Try grating or cooking hard vegetables (such as carrots, celery, green beans) and cutting up small round fruits and vegetables (such as cherry tomatoes, grapes, cherries and olives).
  • Hard biscuits and popcorn can also be a hazard
  • Marshmallow, chewing gum and other sticky lollies should not be offered, not only because they are unsafe but also because they are high in sugar
  • Skin, gristle and bones should be removed from meat, fish and chicken
  • While frankfurts and sausages should be offered only rarely – if they are offered the skin should be removed.
  • It is recommended that children sit down while eating and are not distracted by anything else. They should be supervised by an adult at all times while they are eating.
  • Honey should not be offered to children under the age of 12 months as it contains spores of Clostridium botulinum, which could be dangerous or even fatal. This includes refraining from using honey in any cooking.
  • Cow’s, soy or other milks should not be offered to any child under the age of 12 months. Breastmilk or commercial formula should be the only type of milk offered at this stage
  • Unpasteurised milk should not be offered to any child
  • Do not offer raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood or eggs to any young child
  • Be sure to check use by dates before purchasing and before offering food to your child

Food hygiene:

  • Keep your kitchen clean
  • Follow instructions when preparing infant formula
  • Wash your hands before preparing food and after handling any raw meat
  • Try to avoid preparing food for children if you are sick (especially if you have or have just had vomiting and diarrhoea)
  • Follow the manufacturer’s storage instructions
  • Store perishable foods at less than 5 degrees Celsius
  • Fruits and vegetables should be washed
  • Chicken should not be washed as this can spread any bacteria to the sink and surrounding areas
  • Separate chopping boards and utensils should be used for raw meat and other foods
  • Food should be thoroughly cooked
  • Frozen meat should be defrosted in the fridge or in the microwave
  • Any leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as they stop steaming
  • Perishable Food that is out of the fridge for more than 4 hours should be discarded
  • Leftovers of cooked food should be kept for a maximum of 2-3 days in the fridge

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This article is from the free online course:

Preventing Childhood Obesity: an Early Start to Healthy Living

University of Wollongong