Keep your family healthy with these tips on how to prevent food spoilage and the transmission of infections in and out of the kitchen.

The Healthy Remake Fridge
Credit: Aaron Dyer

Food safety and sanitation are important aspects of providing healthy food for children. Improper food preparation, handling, or storage can quickly result in food being contaminated with germs that may lead to illnesses such as hepatitis A or diarrheal diseases if the contaminated food is eaten.

Understanding and following a few basic principles can help prevent food spoilage and transmission of infections. Here are the top rules to follow in order to keep your family safe and healthy:

1. Keep food at the right temperature.

Keep food at safe serving and storage temperatures at all times to prevent spoiling and the risk of transmitting disease. Food should be kept at 40 degrees F or colder or at 140 degrees F or warmer. The range between 40 degrees and 140 degrees is considered the "danger zone" because within this range bacteria grow most easily.

2. Put leftovers in the fridge ASAP.

Leftovers, including hot foods such as soups or sauces, should be refrigerated immediately. They should not be left to cool at room temperature.

3. Opt for shallow dishes when storing.

Using shallow pans or bowls will facilitate rapid cooling.

4. Thaw in the fridge.

Frozen foods should be thawed in the refrigerator. They should not sit on countertops or in the sink.

5. Follow safety standards when it comes kitchen tools, too.

Use only approved food-preparation equipment, dishes, and utensils.

6. Curate the right cutting board collection.

Only use cutting boards that can be disinfected (made of nonporous materials such as glass, Formica, or plastic). Use separate boards for ready-to-eat foods (including foods to be eaten raw) and for foods that are to be cooked, such as meats.

7. Scrub up!

Always use proper hand-washing techniques in the kitchen and before you enter.

8. Disinfect after diaper duty.

Don't handle food after you change a diaper without first washing your hands thoroughly. Use soap and hot water and dry them on a clean towel.

9. Stay out of the kitchen when you're sick.

Don't prepare or serve food if you have diarrhea, unusually loose stools, or any other gastrointestinal symptoms of an illness, or if you have infected skin sores or injuries, or open cuts. Small, uninfected cuts may be covered with nonporous latex gloves.

10. Share safely.

Supervise meals and snack times. Make sure children do not share plates, utensils, or food that is not individually wrapped.

11. Skip the "10-second rule."

Eating utensils that are dropped on the floor should always be washed with soap and water before using.

12. Clean up messes.

Discard food that is dropped on the floor. Remove leftovers from the eating area after each snack or meal.

13. Keep it clean.

Clean, sanitize, and properly store food-service equipment and supplies.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention