Your baby’s immune system is still developing and therefore, he or she is at a high risk of getting foodborne illness. It’s important to practice safe food handling.
Clean and Sanitize Countertops
Cleaning is wiping away the dirt and grime, and sanitizing is reducing the bacteria to a safe level. Both are important, as the sanitizing agent will only work on properly cleaned surfaces.
- Clear off countertops and scrub, using a clean dishcloth, with hot soapy water.
- Rinse with clean water.
- Air dry or dry with a clean paper towel.
- Spray countertops with sanitizing agent.
- Leave sanitizer on the surface for the suggested amount of time (one minute when using a chlorine bleach agent).
- Allow to air dry or dry with a clean paper towel.
Make your own sanitizing agent by mixing one scant teaspoon chlorine bleach (6%) to 1-quart room temperature water. Do not use chlorine with added fragrance; this is not food-safe. Store the solution in a spray bottle and place in a dark location, inaccessible to children. Once chlorine is mixed with water, it becomes less effective over time. Make at least once per week.
Wash Your Hands
Wash your hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds. Wash your hands often, but especially after touching raw meat, eggs, trash handles, any part of the face or hair, and after using the bathroom.
Do not make baby food when sick with symptoms of fever, vomiting or diarrhea.
Prepare Foods Safely
Rinsing, Chopping and Cutting
Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables just before using under cold water. Never rinse raw poultry, fish or meat, as research shows it actually spreads bacteria. Scrub firm-skin fruits and vegetables with your hands or a clean vegetable brush. Use a separate cutting board and utensils for meat, poultry and fish than for non-meat foods to avoid cross-contamination.
Never thaw TCS (time temperature control for safety) foods on the counter. TCS foods include fish, poultry, meat, dairy, cooked fruits, vegetables and grains, and cut produce. There are four safe ways to thaw:
- Thaw in the refrigerator
- Enclosed and submerged under cold running water (at least 70°F)
- In the microwave oven, but only if it is cooked immediately after
- As part of the cooking process, such as boiling frozen peas over the stovetop to puree and freeze
You may also use these methods to thaw homemade baby food. Do not refreeze baby food that has thawed.
The temperature danger zone is 40–140°F. When preparing food, keep cold foods in the refrigerator until ready to use. TCS foods should not be left in the temperature danger zone for more than 2 hours. If not used immediately, refrigerate or freeze pureed foods promptly.
Use a food thermometer to cook foods to the USDA safe minimum internal temperature. Clean and sanitize thermometer in between uses.
Store Foods Safely
Store opened commercial baby food in the refrigerator for no more than three days. If baby was fed from the jar, discard all leftover baby food and do not store for later. Store meat, poultry, fish and eggs in the refrigerator for no more than 24 hours. Store fruits and vegetables for no more than 48 hours. Freeze homemade baby food in labeled, freezer-safe containers or bags for up to one month for best quality.
Reheat Foods Safely
Refrigerated or frozen homemade baby food must be reheated to at least 165°F before feeding it to your baby. After reheating to the proper temperature, allow food to cool; always stir, and then test the temperature before feeding it to your baby. To speed up the cooling process, stir in a small ice cube, cold water, or cold breastmilk or formula. See Storing and Reheating for more information.
Serve Foods Safely
Always throw away any uneaten or leftover food that is in your baby’s dish, as saliva on the spoon may contaminate the remaining food. To avoid wasting food, start with putting a small amount of homemade baby food in a clean dish, and refrigerate the rest. If your baby needs more food, use a clean spoon to portion out more. As such, don’t feed your baby directly from the commercial jar of baby food, either.