As a paediatric nutritionist and mum to two young kids, I know first-hand the stress, upset and exhaustion when the little ones are unwell.
Food poisoning can be one of the more frequent offenders, throwing little bodies out of whack for long periods, affecting hydration and blood sugar levels and sometimes even impacting the entire family at the same time (!).
Queensland is a great place to live with its sub-tropical weather, unfortunately, food poisoning becomes all too common in this weather because it is when bacteria thrive. The fact is, thousands of adults and children end up being hospitalised each year from contracting food poisoning.
While much blame is heaped on restaurants or fast food outlets, the scary truth is that many of us use unsafe food practices in our very own homes… without even realising it.
This is something that I’m passionate about reducing and a topic that I discuss in depth in my book Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook.
Getting the youngest members of the family involved in safe, hygienic food preparation, cooking and storage habits from an early age is a good way to prevent food poisoning and instil all-important life skills too (see my recent post on Preparing a chicken dish? Here’s what you absolutely shouldn’t do). Now, let's get on top of food poisoning:
What causes food poisoning?
Put simply, food poisoning can occur when food is contaminated with bacteria or germs, which then rapidly multiply. While this happens due to a range of reasons, the most common cause is cross-contamination from other foods.
Bacteria thrives in warm environments, making the Queensland heat an ideal bacteria breeding ground - take note if you live up north or in hotter parts of Australia. But there are ways to enjoying life with family and friends and not in a hospital bed.
Which foods should I look out for?
When we think of food poisoning, we often immediately think of chicken, however eggs are high up on the list too. In fact, eggs can contain salmonella which is one of the leading causes of food poisoning. Don’t be put off cooking with eggs, however - they’re incredibly nutritious and versatile, packed with protein, a broad range of vitamins and healthy fats.
Here are my top tips to help avoid food contamination and reduce the risk of food poisoning in the home:
1. Cook your food thoroughly.
I encourage families that I see in my clinic and workshops to always make sure that their food is thoroughly cooked. This means firm egg whites and poultry and meat are cooked correctly!
The easiest way to check if poultry and meat are properly cooked is to slice open the thickest section and look for clear juices and an absence of pink or indications of raw meat. If in doubt, cook it a little longer to be on the safe side.