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Health Issues

Food-Borne Illnesses Prevention

An estimated one in six Americans get sick each year after eating contaminated food. Anyone can get food poisoning, but children are more likely to be affected and have more serious illness.The good news is that most food-borne illness can be prevented by follow these safety guidelines.


  • Be especially careful when preparing raw meats and poultry. Wash your hands and all surfaces that have come in contact with the raw meat and poultry, with hot, sudsy water before continuing your preparation.

  • Always wash your hands before preparing meals and after going to the bathroom or changing your child's diaper.

  • If you have open cuts or sores on your hands, wear gloves while preparing food.

  • Do not prepare food when you are sick, particularly if you have nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps or diarrhea.

Food selection

  • Carefully examine any canned food (especially home-canned goods) for signs of bacterial contamination. Look for milky liquid surrounding vegetables (it should be clear), cracked jars, loose lids, and swollen cans or lids. Don't use canned or jarred goods showing any of these signs. Do not even taste them. Throw them away so that nobody else will eat them. (Wrap them first in plastic and then in a heavy paper bag.)

  • Buy all meats and seafood from reputable suppliers.

  • Do not use raw (unpasteurized) milk or cheese made from raw milk.

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat.

  • Do not give honey to a baby under one year of age.

  • If your child turns away from a particular food or drink, smell or taste it yourself; you may find that it is spoiled and that it shouldn't be eaten.

Food preparation and serving

  • Do not let prepared foods (particularly starchy ones), cooked and cured meats, cheese, or anything with mayonnaise stay at room temperature for more than two hours.

  • Do not interrupt the cooking of meat or poultry to finish the cooking later.

  • Do not prepare food one day for the next unless it will be frozen or refrigerated right away. (Always put hot food right into the refrigerator. Do not wait for it to cool first.)

  • Make sure all foods are cooked thoroughly. Use a meat thermometer for large items like roasts or turkeys, and cut into other pieces of meat to check if they are done.

  • When reheating meals, cover them and reheat them thoroughly.

More information

Last Updated
Adapted from Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5 7th Edition (Copyright © 2019 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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