Food Safety Week 2021
14th June 2021
This year June 14th marks the beginning of Food Safety Week. This was created by the UN General Assembly to raise awareness about the safety of food production, ensuring hazardous elements are removed from every area. From producing or growing products, to processing, storing, distributing, and even consuming food, there are many aspects to consider.
It is important that children not only learn about what is safe to eat, but also understand where their food comes from. Some areas may not be entirely appropriate to discuss with young children, but there are still plenty of things that can be taught in fun and engaging ways. Here are some recommendations of what young children can learn about during Food Safety Week:
· Growing food- What better place to start than with growing their own food. This can be done in a number of ways, whether they have access to a garden where many vegetables can be planted, or simply growing a small tub of cress. Either way children will begin to understand how some of their food is made and can appreciate all the hard work that people put in to growing it.
· Storing food safely- A fun experiment to do is to demonstrate how food can decay if it is not store properly. All that is needed is 2 identical food items, let’s say tomatoes, one is placed in a fridge while the other is left out somewhere else. On a daily basis these two items can be compared, and the children can witness how one starts going soft and rotten much quicker than the other. A great way to engage multiple senses.
· Creating a chain- Many children assume food is from “the shops”. While this is somewhat true, they should be shown where food comes from before it arrives at a shop. By using small world and construction resources a small example can be given. For example, a truck might start at a farm collecting milk, it then drives it to a factory where the milk gets treated and put into containers, another truck then collects the milk before taking it to the shops where it gets put on the shelves for us to buy.
· Processing foods- While large factory equipment is not easily accessible to nurseries, what can be processed is something on a much smaller scale. In order for children to understand how different ingredients can go into one individual item, why not make a smoothie? They get to visually see and choose multiple ingredients, that can then be (safely) placed in a blender where a practitioner can blitz it together to create something entirely new.
· Hazardous items to ingest- A simple “yes or no” game can be used to help children identify what items can be dangerous to eat. Using a mixture of real items or pictures of them, simply ask the children to say if something is safe to eat or not. Some examples are small toys, chemicals, unknown berries, sharp items and raw meats. A simple example as to why each item is unsafe helps to solidify their understanding.
· Allergies- Many children have dietary requirements nowadays, there is usually at least one in every nursery who has either a severe allergy, an intolerance or dietary requirement of some kind (such as vegetarianism, or no pork for cultural reasons). Children can learn about allergies to encourage empathy and broaden their development. A simple circle game to identify common allergies, as well as briefly explaining what can happen during an allergic reaction, will give them more awareness about other people and how they live.