After School Food Safety

foodThe kitchen, for food, is often the first place children go when they get home from school, but it’s not always the safest place. Millions of children become ill from the food they eat.

Here are some food safety recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to share with children to help keep them safe after school. When coming home after school, kids can help prevent illnesses by following these recommendations:

  1. Place books, bags, and sporting equipment on the floor, not on eating counters or the kitchen table where germs could be transferred.
  2. Clean out lunch boxes and throw away perishable sandwiches or other “refrigerator type” foods, such as yogurt tubes or cheese sticks, left over from lunch.
  3. Wash your hands before you make or eat a snack. Hands carry lots of germs, and not washing hands is a top cause of foodborne illness.
  4. Always use clean spoons, forks, and plates.
  5. Wash fruits and vegetables with running tap water before you eat them.
  6. Do not eat bread, cheese, or soft fruits or vegetables that are bruised or have spots of mold.
  7. Do not eat unbaked cookie dough because it may contain raw eggs that can have Salmonella bacteria.
  8. Do not leave cold items, like milk, lunchmeat, hard cooked eggs, or yogurt, out on the counter at room temperature. Put these foods back in the refrigerator as soon as you’ve fixed your snack.
  9. Don’t eat any perishable food left out of the refrigerator, such as pizza — even if it isn’t topped with meat. Food should not be left in the temperature “Danger Zone” of 40 to 140 °F for more than 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is 90 °F or higher).

Heating or cooking foods in microwave ovens can present food safety and personal safety challenges. Some foods do not heat evenly to destroy all bacteria that could be present. Keep these tips in mind:

  1. Read package directions carefully. An adult needs to tell children whether to use the minimum or maximum cooking time on food package directions.
  2. Use only microwave-safe cookware. Don’t put metal or foil-wrapped foods in the microwave. Never microwave food in cold storage containers, such as margarine tubs, cottage cheese cartons, or bowls from frozen whipped topping. The containers can melt and transfer harmful chemicals into the food.
  3. For more even cooking and to better destroy bacteria, cover a dish of food with a lid, plastic wrap, or wax paper. Turn up one corner to let excess steam escape while food is microwaving.
  4. Halfway through cooking, rotate food packages and dishes or stir food during microwaving — even if the oven has a turntable. This helps the food cook more evenly and safely.

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Grapefruit Juice and Your Medications May Not Mix

grapefruit 

The Food and Drug Administration wants you to know that grapefruit juice may be a problem with some medications.


  •  Ask your pharmacist or other health care professional if you can have fresh grapefruit or grapefruit juice while using your medication. If you can’t, you may want to ask if you can have other juices with the medicine.
  • Read the Medication Guide or patient information sheet that comes with your prescription medicine to find out if it could interact with grapefruit juice. Some may advise not to take the drug with grapefruit juice. If it’s OK to have grapefruit juice, there will be no mention of it in the guide or information sheet.
  • Read the Drug Facts label on your non-prescription medicine, which will let you know if you shouldn’t have grapefruit or other fruit juices with it.

  • If you must avoid grapefruit juice with your medicine, check the label of bottles of fruit juice or drinks flavored with fruit juice to make sure they don’t contain grapefruit juice.
  • Seville oranges (often used to make orange marmalade) and tangelos (a cross between tangerines and grapefruit) affect the same enzyme as grapefruit juice, so avoid these fruits as well if your medicine interacts with grapefruit juice.

 

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Holiday Travel with Young Children

travelIt’s that time again…time to travel and visit with family and friends over the school holiday.

It’s time to think of ways to keep the kids comfortable and occupied during long trips. It’s time to prepare for the “just in case situation” which always seem to occur when we travel, such as motion sickness.

How to prepare for long car trips:

  • If you’re going by car, plan a travel route with stops where your children can get out of the car and run around and blow off some steam from being cooped up in the car. Good places are parks and child play areas.
  •  Get to where you are staying overnight early, before the kids get overtired, hungry and cranky.
  • Pack some hand sanitizer as it’s a good alternative for hand washing if soap and water aren’t available at a toilet rest stop.
  • Try to make your meal stops a little before the usual lunch or dinner rush hour – you’ll get better service and it won’t take quite so long.

What to take

Apart from the items you’d normally take on a trip, it can be helpful to take extra things just for car travel. Here are some ideas:

  • Paper towels or wipes can be used in lots of ways.
  • Take empty plastic bags for rubbish, dirty clothes and dirty diapers
  • Take a change of clothes for each child. Depending on the season, you might also want to take hats or something warm to put on.
  • Some families take an old ice cream container for accidents of any kind. It can also work as a potty if your child hasn’t been toilet trained for long and there are no toilets around.
  • If you have a child who wets the bed, take a piece of plastic to protect mattresses.
  • Take a bag of things to do on the trip
  • Take some healthy food, such as fruit, to snack on.
  • Bring water to drink, and try to avoid too many soft drinks. Small plastic water bottles with pop-tops can be very good for young children.

Bus or train travel

  • Traveling on a bus or train can be very exciting for young children. But long trips can pose similar challenges to long car trips, as children can become bored with the scenery and of being stuck in a confined space. So, be sure to bring  food, drink, toys and books as you would for car travel.

Air travel

Things to consider when travel is by plane:

  • If you’re going overseas, check with your doctor in advance so you can all get the vaccinations you need.
  • Dress children lightly for air travel, and check that you can get blankets from the cabin staff if needed. Layers of clothes that you can take on and off are a good idea.
  • Some airlines are better at supporting parents traveling with children. It can be helpful to ask other parents about which airlines they preferred to fly with.
  • If you’re able to organize the timing so your trip back home happens during night time, you’re more likely not to disturb your children’s sleep pattern.
  •  If you have a toddler, it can be handy to take a fold-up stroller for him to sit in at airports.

Seating
If you’re traveling with a baby you can ask to have a bulkhead seat, which gives you more leg room and a place for a bassinet. There may already be a bassinet in the bulkhead, but check with the airline when booking – you might have to bring your own, and a size and weight limit applies. Bassinets also offer a place for your baby to sit while you have your meal, or when you just want a break from holding  him or her.

Airline staff
When the airline staff ask at the start of your flight if you’ll need any help, tell them you’ll need a hand to heat bottles and/or solids, and that you might need help at meal times so you can eat.

Toys
Pack a comfort or cuddle toy your child likes for the plane trip. Small toys – such as little dolls, cars, trucks and trains – are good for playing on the tray top.

Some children are more prone to travel sickness than others.

What to do to avoid travel sickness

  • Before leaving, don’t eat fatty foods, but do eat something – it seems worse on an empty stomach.
  • Encourage those with travel sickness to look outside the vehicle, not inside. They shouldn’t look at moving things, like other cars – instead, they should try to look at something that’s still, such as the same spot on the horizon.
  • Make sure there’s a breeze and fresh air – it’s a good idea to have the window open a little bit.
  • Don’t read in a moving vehicle.
  • Some people find that keeping their head as still as possible can help.
  • Try to distract travel sick children by getting them to think about other things.
  • If your child goes pale, gets very quiet or complains of feeling sick, stop and let her have a walk in the fresh air.
  • Speak to your doctor about medicines for travel sickness
  • If your children are often sick, take a container, wipes, a towel and a change of clothes in case of accidents.

Source: Child and Youth Health

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Making Braid Fabric Wreaths…Fun for Ma n’ Me

wreaths

For as long as I can remember I have been making and gifting braided fabric wreaths. When my child was in the early years in grade school, he would enjoy helping stuff the fabric tubes and braiding the tubes for the wreaths. Most of all, he enjoyed talking about the role he played in its creation!

For friends who celebrated Christmas there were wreaths made of Christmas scene patterns braided with a solid red or green. Friends who didn’t celebrate Christmas were happy to receive wreaths that were suitable for hanging year round.

You will need to sew up the fabric tubes and the bows for the wreaths on a sewing machine, but children can help with the other parts of the wreath making.

Materials for One Wreath:

3 strips of Fabric (assorted/solid colors) cut 72 inches long by 10 inches wide

1 strip of a solid color/print for the bow cut 60 inches long by 10 inches wide

1 circular wire ring 12 inches in diameter (a large clothing hanger will do – bend to shape* )

Thread to match the color of the fabric

Sewing needles for hand sewing

Use of a sewing machine to make the strips into tubes for stuffing

2 bag of 100% Poly-fil for stuffing -20 ounces

1 long stick about 1 and ½ inches wide to use for pushing the fiber-fil into the tubing

Cutting Directions:

Cut 3 strips of fabric 72“long by 10” wide

Cut one strip of cloth for the bow – 60” long by 10“wide

Sewing Directions:

Wreath

  • Turn 3 strips (tubes) to be used for the wreath to the wrong side, pin or baste stitch one ½ inch from the edge. Leave openings every 12 inches to make stuffing easier. Machine stitch to openings (every 12 inches, leaving 4 inches open for stuffing, machine stitch for 12 inches, leave 4’ open…repeat until finished.
  • Turn tubes right side out, begin stuffing, use stick to help position stuffing in the tube, stuff each open section then hand stitch closed until you finish each tube.
  • Secure 3 tubes with a pin or stitch together at one end. Begin to braid until the 3 tubes have only 4 inches to the end ( use this to join with that part of the wreath that is held together with a pin or stitching)
  • Shape into a circle, join beginning and end of wreath together, hand sew.
  • Mount on wire ring by sewing wreath tubes to the wire at a few inch intervals

Bow

  • Turn bow fabric wrong side out, baste ½ inch from the edge, machine stitch the long side and one short side, turn inside out, press, hand stitch or machine stitch the open end closed.
  • Tie bow around the wreath at the point where you joined the top and bottom of the wreath , be sure to include the wire

Note: You can purchase wire rings for your wreaths at a hardware store or online.*

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Reasons Not to Give Your Dog Bones

bonesIt’s the holidays and you want your dog to share in the treats of the season. Before you share bones from the holiday roast, please read what the Food an Drug Administration wants you to know why giving your dog bones is a bad idea. Here is what they had to say:

You’ve just finished a big weekend family dinner and you are wondering what to do with the bones from the ham and roast, when in trots your big black Labrador Retriever. It’s hard to resist those longing, puppy-dog eyes.Your veterinarian has told you it’s a bad idea to give bones to your dog, but you’ve done so in the past with no harm done.

“Some people think it’s OK to give dogs large bones to chew on” says Carmela Stamper, a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Giving your dog a bone might lead to an unexpected trip to your veterinarian, a possible emergency surgery, or even death for your pet.”FDA has received about 35 reports of pet illnesses related to bone treats and seven reports of product problems, such as bones shattering when pulled from their packaging. The reports, sent in by pet owners and veterinarians, involved about 45 dogs.

A variety of commercially-available bone treats for dogs—including treats described as “Ham Bones,” “Pork Femur Bones,” “Rib Bones,” and “Smokey Knuckle Bones”—were listed in the reports. Many of these products differ from uncooked butcher-type bones because they are processed and packaged for sale as dog treats. The products may be dried through a smoking process or by baking, and may contain other ingredients such as preservatives, seasonings, and smoke flavorings.

Pet owners and veterinarians have reported the following illnesses in dogs that have eaten bone treats:

  • Gastrointestinal obstruction (blockage in the digestive tract)
  • Choking
  • Cuts and wounds in the mouth or on the tonsils
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding from the rectum, and
  • Death. Approximately eight dogs reportedly died after eating a bone treat.

Remember that your dog can pick up bones while out on a walk. He could also get into the kitchen trash and eat bones that you may have thrown away.

Talk with your veterinarian about other toys or treats that are most appropriate for your dog,” says Stamper. “There are many available products made with different materials for dogs to chew on.”“We recommend supervising your dog with any chew toy or treat, especially one she hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And if she ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

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