Diane Wright Hirsch
Cooperative Extension Educator
Cooperative Extension System
University of Connecticut

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In the last year, the media reports have shown us how terrible the effects of an E. Coli infection can be. Three young children died from complications of this foodborne illness: two after eating undercooked hamburger, one after being infected at a day care center by a sick staff person.

Foodborne illness can be a danger and needs to be taken seriously by anyone who cooks food for a day care center or day care home. Young children are at greater risk for foodborne illness and its more serious complications. Their bodies are not able to fight off infections as well as adults. At even higher risk are kids that are anemic, diabetic, on medication for cancer or heart disease, or are HIV positive.

Keeping food safe is easy if you follow a few simple rules:


  • Use only reputable stores or dealers.
  • Do not choose foods with torn or broken packaging or dented cans.
  • Get food home and into a refrigerator or freezer quickly.


  • Wash your hands before handling food (if gloves are used, change them as often as you would wash your hands).
  • Clean and sanitize counters, tables, cutting boards and utensils after using them and before using them on another food.
  • Wash kitchen linens daily or when soiled.
  • Wash can openers daily or when soiled.
  • Wash hands thoroughly after changing diapers or helping children in the bathroom.


  • Keep your refrigerator at 38 degrees or below.
  • Keep your freezer at 0 degrees or below.
  • Cook foods completely, and reheat foods until very hot (165 degrees). Ground meat should always be well done. Cook poultry until juices run clear. Egg yolks and whites should be firm.
  • Do not let kids taste raw batter or dough.
  • Keep foods refrigerated or hot until serving time.
  • Bacteria grow fast in the temperature danger zone (40 degrees to 140 degrees), so do not keep food at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Soon after eating, refrigerate leftovers in small, shallow containers.

The most common causes of foodborne illnesses are poor personal hygiene (washing hands is very important!) and letting food stay in the temperature danger zone for too long. These are simple to avoid. Teach all your teachers, cooks and kids to follow these rules!



2/3 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup baking molasses
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
3 cups flour
Optional: raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, tiny candies for decorations

Have children help measure and mix margarine, sugar, egg and molasses. Let the children sift together the baking powder, soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and flour. Mix wet and dry ingredients. Roll dough 1/4- inch thick on a floured surface. Have children cut out cookies with a
cookie cutter. Children may decorate gingerbread people with raisins, chocolate chips, etc. Bake cookies for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes one dozen.

If you have a large group of children, you may want to place each child's unbaked cookie on a piece of foil, with the child's name in the corner. Lay the foil with the cookie on the cookie sheet to bake.

National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service
Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce
these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of
reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care – NNCC. Hirsch, D.W. (1994). A plateful of bacteria? In C. Eller (Ed.) *All Children Considered* (Summer, p.6). Storrs, CT: University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension.

Any additions or changes to these materials must be preapproved by the author .

Carole Eller
Cooperative Extension System
University of Connecticut
1376 Storrs Road
Storrs CT 06269

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