SAFEFOOD, the food safety body, is urging parents to follow good hygiene habits during the summer months.
Parents across Northern Ireland will be thinking about ideas for a fun family day out.
If you’re planning a visit to an open farm, zoo or wildlife park, it’s important to follow some good hygiene habits, particularly for young children who might be experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of animals and a farm for the very first time.
And because adults are the best role models for children, these tips are also important for those grown-up helpers who are saying “hello” to the animals with them.
Here are some top tips to help you and your family stay safe on the farm this summer;
- Before your visit, wear clothes that are right for being on a farm like strong shoes or wellies. It’s also a good idea to take another pair of clean shoes to change into before you go home and to wash your hands again after the change.
- Make sure that any cuts or grazes are covered with waterproof dressings.
When you’re meeting the animals
- It sounds like fun but don’t kiss the animals or let them to lick your face – animals can carry germs which are harmless to them but could make you very sick
- Kids love touching animals and it’s all part of growing up but you should always wash hands thoroughly afterwards in warm soapy water – this also applies if you’ve touched fences or other farm surfaces. Wipe and gels just aren’t as good at removing germs.
- When you’re with the animals or in the animal area, don’t eat or drink anything – and never eat animal food or pick up any food from the ground
- Unless someone working on the farm gives you permission, don’t pick up any tools, and try to avoid contact with animal droppings – these can carry germs which can cause food poisoning
- Always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and rinse in running water before leaving the animal area.
- Don’t suck your fingers or put anything you find in your mouth
When it’s feeding time for you
- Whether it’s a picnic you’ve brought or something you bought at a shop on the farm, always remember to wash your hands with soap and warm water and dry them properly before you start to eat
- Eat only in areas where you have been told it is ok to do so
- It can be very tempting on a hot day but don’t drink from any taps unless they are clearly marked that it is OK to drink from them
- Don’t drink unpasteurised or raw milk
When it’s time to go home
- Make sure you put any rubbish in the waste bins provided and don’t leave any food lying around after – take it home or dispose of it properly.
- If you use a pram or buggy, clean the wheels before you leave, as well as any shoes or boots you’ve taken off and remember to wash and dry your hands thoroughly after doing all that.
For more information, ask the venue if they have the ‘Meeting the Animals safely’ leaflet, call the safefood helpline on 0800 085 1683 or visit www.safefood.eu.