Preventing illness in the kitchen

Soup Kitchen
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Knoxville (WVLT) No doubt you're concerned about the foods you give to your children.

Are they nutritious?

Will your child eat them?

And are they too high in calories?

But today, Children's Hospital is reminding you about the hidden dangers in your kitchen that could be making your family sick.

On an ordinary day, you can find Karen Powers in the kitchens of area restaurants, testing food for safety for microbac laboratories.

But today, she's showing these First Baptist Academy students how quickly their kitchens at home can become breeding grounds for bacteria.

"We had some cottage cheese that was in the refrigerator, and they brought it out just a couple of minutes before we started our demonstration, it hadn't been out very long in there in the kitchen, and it had already raised above 40 degrees."

Bacteria such as e-coli, salmonella and listeria are spread by unwashed hands, on dirty kitchen surfaces, through poorly prepared food or food that has spoiled, and by cross contamination of food products.

Karygan Pace, a student says, "clean, separate, cook and chill, and we were hearing that we need to keep the foods and different temperatures for them to be, for them to not have bacterias."

Hunter Bearden, a student says, "the surfaces probably have a lot of germs, so you could get other people sick while you're touching different foods."

Food-borne illnesses can cause symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and dehydration.

And East Tennessee Children's Hospital's Seth Linkous says parents often mistake a child's symptoms with a stomach virus.

"When foods get recalled it's because something of a mass quantity has been tainted by some bacteria. Well, that can happen easily in one's own home by one serving."

Food safety experts say precautions begin in the grocery store, continue with storage and preparation and end with cleanup after a family meal.

And hand washing is the most important and easiest way to prevent the spread of bacteria that can make your family sick.

Today's food safety event is part of the eating and living healthy campaign co-sponsored by Children's Hospital and Shoney's, teaching children and families the importance of hand washing, food safety and how proper precautions and safety measures in the kitchen can prevent illness and keep them healthier.

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