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Back-to-School Food Safety Lesson: After-School Snacks

Attention, Commissary customers: class is now in session! Today’s back-to-school food safety lesson will focus on how you can teach your kids to “Be Food Safe” when fixing after-school snacks.

Excuse me, but why is this important?

A child’s immune system is not as developed as an adult’s. Therefore, while everyone is at risk for food poisoning – any illness that results from eating contaminated food – kids have a greater risk of suffering more severe consequences from it.

With the school year starting, many kids will find themselves heading to the kitchen for a snack when they get home from school, so this is a great time of year to review these principles with children and help them develop healthy after-school routines for food safety.

Check your steps!

As you’ll remember from our last lesson, it’s important to always follow these four steps: Clean! Separate! Cook! Chill!

Clean - Separate - Cook - Chill

Lesson planning

  • The best way to teach your child food safety is to lead by example! Always follow the four steps above when you’re preparing food.
  • Involve your kid(s) in preparing family meals and snacks in an age-appropriate way. This will help them practice proper food safety so they know what to do when they make after-school snacks.

Keep everything clean

  • Wash your hands with warm running water and soap before and after handling food. Scrub your hands for 20 seconds before rinsing. (You can time yourself by singing “Happy Birthday” all the way through twice.)
  • Use clean cooking tools, spoons, forks and plates.
  • Rinse fruits and veggies with running tap water before eating them or using them as ingredients.

Practice safety-first snack prep

  • Don’t eat bruised or molded foods.
  • Don’t eat raw cookie dough, no matter how tempted you may be! It could contain raw eggs with Salmonella bacteria.
  • Don’t leave cold foods out on the counter. Cold foods, such as dairy products, shouldn’t be kept at room temperature, so put them away after fixing your snack!

Be microwave-ready

  • Always follow the instructions on the package! Ask an adult who knows the microwave’s wattage whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time.
  • Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t use foil, metal packaging or cold storage containers. (When in doubt, check whether it’s labeled “microwave-safe” or ask an adult.)
  • When reheating leftovers, use a food thermometer to make sure they reach 165° F. Cooking only kills bacteria when foods reach the right temperature.
  • When reheating leftovers, cover and rotate the dish for even cooking; add some water, if needed. Vent the cover to allow steam to escape. The moist heat will help destroy harmful bacteria and cook the dish evenly.

But before you go, we’d love to know how you usually manage after-school snacks with your kids! Share your tips with the class in the comments below!

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