Tips To Help Kids Avoid Foodborne Illness

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today hosted a food safety camp for local area fourth graders from Prince Georges County, Md. Nearly 60 students participated in hands-on demonstrations to learn important food safety lessons through science.

Each student had the opportunity to view common types of foodborne bacteria through high powered microscopes, participated in hand-washing experiments using glow-in-the-dark materials, prepared safe snacks in the microwave and calibrated different types of food thermometers. Throughout the day, students met with USDA scientists to learn about how bacteria in food may cause illness and how to avoid it.


"It is important that children be taught about food safety so they can understand what behaviors to embrace and which ones to avoid," said Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety Beth Johnson. "We teach safety when kids learn to swim and ride bikes, and we need to teach safety when it comes to handling and preparing food."

Most of the learning stations at the camp featured a message from USDA's Be Food Safe campaign, which embrace the four easy lessons of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. These messages teach the safe way to prepare and handle food in order to avoid the spread of bacteria and to prevent foodborne illness.

* Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often.
* Separate - Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods.
* Cook - Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked.
* Chill - Refrigerate or freeze promptly.

One station at the camp allowed the students to pose questions to the USDA's online food safety expert, Ask Karen. Karen is the USDA's virtual representative that is available to answer food safety questions 24 hours day, seven days a week.