Health Canada



Health Canada

February 18, 2014 15:31 ET

Information Update: Food Safety for Kids Who Are Five and Under

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Feb. 18, 2014) -

Issue

Children who are five and under are more at risk of developing a foodborne illness (sometimes referred to as food poisoning) because their immune systems are still developing. This makes them unable to fight off infection as well as adults can. Children also produce less of the stomach acid that kills harmful bacteria, which makes it easier for them to get sick.

Symptoms of foodborne illness can vary from mild stomach ache, vomiting, diarrhea and fever/chills to extremely severe illness requiring hospitalization. Foodborne illness in young children can also lead to dehydration, as their bodies are smaller and they can lose a high percentage of body fluid very quickly.

Up to four million (or 1 in 8) Canadians get sick every year from food-borne illness. Many of these cases could be prevented by following proper food handling and preparation techniques.

What you should do

Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill - The best way to protect yourself and your family from foodborne illness is to follow these four basic food safety steps. If you would like to read more about this, please visit the websites listed at the bottom of this page.

Use a digital food thermometer and always refer to these safe internal cooking temperatures when you are preparing food.

Foods to avoid giving to young children

Parents and caregivers should pay close attention to what they are feeding young children. Some foods are at a higher risk for being contaminated with foodborne bacteria than others.

- Don't give honey to an infant younger than one year of age - it can cause a serious type of food-related illness called infant botulism. These means don't add honey to their formula, food or water, and don't put honey on their soother.

- Children over one year of age can safely eat honey because they have a very low risk of developing infant botulism.

- Be sure not to give children raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish or seafood. Bacteria are killed by heat. Raw meat, poultry or seafood must be cooked to a safe internal temperature to eliminate harmful bacteria.

- It's extremely important to cook ground beef (e.g. hamburgers) thoroughly to 71°C (160°F).

- Do not serve raw alfalfa or bean sprouts to young children. While sprouts are a healthy food option, they can sometimes be contaminated with harmful bacteria such as E.coli and Salmonella which can lead to food poisoning.

- Do not give children raw or unpasteurized milk, juice or cider. Unpasteurized products can be contaminated with harmful viruses, parasites or bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli."

- Avoid giving young children raw or lightly cooked eggs. Cookie dough and cake batters made with raw eggs could contain Salmonella and should not be eaten until they are cooked thoroughly.

For more information

To learn more about food safety for young children and the four basic food safety steps, please visit these websites:

Government of Canada

- Food safety information for children ages 5 & under

- Food safety tips to prevent infant botulism

- Preparing and handling powdered infant formula

- Infant nutrition

Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education

- Be Food Safe Canada Campaign

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Contact Information

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    Health Canada
    613-957-2983

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    1-866-225-0709