Food Safety for Babies and Toddlers – Top Tips

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    Good food hygiene is especially important when you have babies, toddlers and children in your family. Here are some top tips to help you keep food safe, whilst keeping to a tight family budget.

    Understanding ‘use by’ and ‘best before’ dates.
    • ‘Use by’ dates appear on foods that go off quickly. It can be dangerous to eat food past this date, even though it might look and smell fine. But if cooked or frozen its life can be extended beyond the ‘use by’ date.
    • Check the ‘use by’ dates on the food in your fridge on a regular basis and be sure to use (eat, cook or freeze) food before its ‘use by’ to help you avoid throwing food away unnecessarily.
    • Once food with a ‘use by’ date has been opened, follow any storage instructions such as ‘eat within 3 days of opening’.
    • ‘Best before’ dates appear on food with a longer shelf life. They show how long the food will be at its best quality. Using food after the ‘best before’ doesn’t mean it will be unsafe. The exception to this is eggs, providing they are cooked thoroughly, they can be eaten a day or two after their ‘best before’ date
    .Use leftovers safely

    Eating leftovers can be a good way of making a meal go further.
    • If you are going to store leftovers in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes) cover them and eat them up within two days.
    • If you are going to freeze them, cool them before putting them in your freezer. Once foods are in the freezer, they can be safely stored there forever – but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat them within three months.
    • Make sure you defrost leftovers properly before reheating. Defrost them in the fridge over night, or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straight away. Eat leftovers within 24 hours of defrosting and do not refreeze. The only exception is if you are defrosting raw food, such as meat or poultry, once it’s cooked it can be refrozen.
    • Cook leftovers until steaming hot throughout.
    • Don’t reheat leftovers more than once.
    • Plan your meals 
    • Before you go shopping check what’s in the fridge and freezer.
    • Think about what you are going to eat that week and write it down.
    • Make a list of what you need to buy and stick to it! Impulse buys can be expensive and, if not part of your plans, could lead to something else being wasted.
    • If you do get tempted by special offers in the shop, like ‘buy one get one free’, think about adjusting your meal planner for the week to add it in, or freeze the extra pack before the ‘use by’ date. Or you could cook larger portions and save some for another time.
    • Label food before it goes in the freezer, so you know what it is and how long it’s been there.
    Food Safety – What do you know?

    How much do you really know about good food hygiene? The Food Standards Agency, which promotes the importance of good food hygiene in the home, has a quick Food Safety Quiz which unravels some common food safety myths – find out if you’re able to separate fact from fiction! (The Small Steps team didn’t get all the answers correct first time!).
    The Agency also runs an annual Food Safety Week and this year it will take place from 10th to 16th June with a theme of "Kitchen Check".
    Information provided by The Food Safety Agency
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