Rachel C. Swicker
Registered Dietitian; District Specialist, Communities, Families and Youth
University of Massachusetts
Food poisoning can make children and adults very sick. Symptoms
may include diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomachache, headache,
weakness, and fever.
Food poisoning results from eating food that has not been handled properly. Bacteria in the food causes the illness. To prepare food safely, you need to follow some rules for food preparation.
If you are not certain that food (especially leftover food) is safe to eat, throw it out. Eating unsafe food can cause food poisoning.
Bacteria multiply quickly at room temperature. Always keep
formula-filled bottles cold until feeding time. Throw away any
formula left in the bottle after feeding. Do not feed a baby any
formula that has been left out of the refrigerator or that smells
Do not microwave breast milk or formula. Milk heated in a microwave may burn the baby's mouth or throat because the milk can get too hot.
Do not feed infants less than one year old honey. Honey can cause infant botulism. Honey used in cooking and baking is dangerous, too. The botulism spores that cause illness are not destroyed by regular cooking methods.
Cover home-prepared baby food immediately and put in the refrigerator. Better still, freeze it in ice cube trays. Once the food is frozen, put the food cubes in a plastic freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. The cubes can be heated in a custard dish over boiling water at feeding time. Never refreeze thawed food.
If the whole jar of baby food will not be eaten at once, put the food to be eaten in the baby's bowl. The jar of leftover food should be refrigerated and used within two days. Throw out any leftovers in the baby's bowl.
Even though a child may seem big, avoid foods with pits (like
olives and cherries). Food such as hard candies, nuts, grapes,
peanut butter not served on bread or crackers, and hot dogs or
meat sticks that have not been cut lengthwise are also dangerous.
These foods may cause choking.
Foods may also get stuck in the throats of children who are allowed to walk around with food in their mouths. Make a rule: Eating is allowed only at the table.
Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for free food
safety bulletins and classes. Cooperative Extension is listed
under state or county government in your telephone directory.