Food safety

To protect your child's health, be careful when preparing, cooking and storing food.

More information about temperatures for cooking and storing foods.

Choking hazards and foods to avoid

Be cautious with certain food textures. Your child's chewing and swallowing skills will keep developing into the preschool years. Avoid or modify foods that are choking hazards until she is 4 years old. For more information about what to do if someone chokes, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca.

Foods that may cause choking

How to make these foods safer

Foods that are stringy or chewy, like meat, long pasta or cheesy toppings Cut the food up into small pieces.
Food that sticks to the roof of the mouth, like peanut butter, cream cheese and cheese spread Spread it thinly on bread or crackers.
Round or smooth foods, like grapes or cherries Cut them into 4 parts and remove the pits or seeds.
Foods like wieners or hot dogs Cut them lengthwise and then cut again into bite-sized pieces.
Hard foods, like raw vegetables or fruit Cook to soften them or grate them into tiny pieces.
Hard candies, whole nuts and seeds, popcorn, fish with bones, snacks with toothpicks or skewers, raisins and gum Do not give to your child. These foods cannot be modified to make them safe.

For babies under 1 year old, avoid honey, since it may contain bacteria that causes Botulism in infants.

Avoid foods that may cause illness in young children, such as:

  • raw or cooked sprouts (e.g., alfalfa, radish or bean)
  • any food containing raw eggs (e.g., cookie dough or Caesar salad dressing made with raw eggs)
  • unpasteurized fruit juice, milk or cheese
  • undercooked meats, poultry, fish or eggs
  • food that hasn’t been stored properly or is past its expiry date

Also avoid foods such as:

  • coffee, tea and herbal teas
  • foods with sugar substitutes (e.g., aspartame, stevia, sucralose)
  • foods labelled 'low-fat' or 'calorie-reduced'

Limit unhealthy foods for your whole family. This includes foods that are high in fat, sugar or salt (sodium), such as:

  • chips and pickles
  • sugary cereal and chocolate bars
  • cookies and doughnuts
  • sugar-sweetened beverages—pop, iced tea, sports drinks, fruit punches, fruit cocktails, fruit drinks, fruit 'ades' (e.g., lemonade) and flavoured, vitamin or mineral water

What about fish?

Fish is a good source of protein, and some fish contain healthy fats that help the development of your child’s brain and eyes. Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating at least 2 servings of fish per week. Some healthy fish choices include salmon, trout, mackerel, halibut, pollock (Boston bluefish), char, sole, canned light tuna, cod, herring and sardines.

Although fish has many health benefits, some fish (e.g., fresh or frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin and orange roughy) are high in mercury. Follow advice from Health Canada to limit your exposure to mercury and other environmental contaminants.

For information about fish caught in Alberta, visit mywildalberta.ca or call Alberta Health at 780-427-4518. For toll-free access, call 310-0000.

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