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Baking with Kids

Posted in E. coli,Food Safety,Our Blog,Salmonella on December 10, 2019

Knowledge is power and is something we had a lot less of when I was a kid and openly licked the beater and used a spoon in a bowl of cake batter. We consumed a lot more raw/uncooked foods than we should have and didn’t really know much better. I did this not only at home but also when cooking with my grandparents. We were always really big on hand washing, but not on the other things that concern us these days. But baking with kids is different now. We need to take more precautions than we did before.

Recently our oldest who is 6 decided he wanted to become more kitchen savvy. I knew this day was coming because he has been in the kitchen with me since he was born. Literally he was brought home and his swing was right beside the kitchen. He knows nothing but making a lot of home cooked meals and naturally is curious about how things work in the kitchen. I don’t want to dim this because as we all know if you know how to cook it often makes things a lot easier in life and if you can bake as well you always have something sweet and delicious around (however it may not be great for the waistline.)

When looking around online for some beginner ideas on getting our guy involved in the kitchen of course I wanted to learn the most about kitchen safety, you know beyond the “don’t play with knives” talk that we give every child. He needed something beyond electrical appliances being hot or dangerous as well. I want him to know that while cooking is something that can be a lot of fun we also have to be really safe and careful when preparing food for ourselves and others.

Recently with the issues coming up from uncooked flour I knew that it was time to dive in to more kitchen knowledge to make sure that not only I was following the rules, but also that I was being the best teacher for our budding chef.

Why is uncooked flour dangerous? 

Per the FDA: Flour is a field food. If pathogens get into the wheat plants while they are growing in a field — via wild animal waste, for example — they’ll stay in through the milling process. What pathogens are these you ask? E. Coli.

People are far more likely to believe that E. Coli can come from fruits, veggies and other sources but it seems the believability of it coming from flour is blowing minds left and right. Recently I even noticed a warning on my bag of flour and this really made me interested. You all recall recently a recall of a brand of flour associated with Aldi a chain grocery store, but it appears that flour recalls due to illness are less reported than those with other food products.

We have been making sure to be extremely diligent and not allow the boys to sneak that dough even though we know how delicious it can be because of the raw egg and flour. We also teach them to politely educate their friends and family when we have big baking days so that no one becomes ill. We also have been known to buy the safe to eat dough and while it doesn’t taste quite the same it does satisfy our cravings.

Here are some safety tips to follow from the FDA:

The issue was significant enough that the FDA issued a warning to consumers last summer to not eat any raw dough. Consumer Reports and FDA lists the following ways to avoid ingesting uncooked flour:

  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Avoid giving homemade modeling clay, playdough, papier-mâché or ornaments with flour as the main ingredient to young children who may, inadvertently, put these objects in their mouths.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
  • Make sure you throw out any old flour and thoroughly wash out the container or bin that you use to store flour in, before adding in a new bag of flour.
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked.

If you believe you have been sickened by flour be sure to seek help from a healthcare provider. Some of the symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Stomach cramps (abdominal pain)
  • Diarrhea that is often bloody.
  • Fever of about 100 F to 101 F (37.7 C to 38.3 C)
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mild dehydration.

Kids often have more complications from E. Coli than healthy adults which makes this even more scary when children are learning the ins and outs of kitchen life. We are definitely extra careful in our home because the youngest is just 2 years old and we don’t want to do anything to impact his health in a negative way, especially when we just wanted to make a delicious meal or snack.

While we know that we can’t be 100% in anything that we do, we definitely strive to provide the safest environment for our boys and try to teach them the best ways that we know possible to prepare foods and hope that these skills will last them a lifetime, especially in their own kitchens with their own children.

By Samantha Cooper, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)