We have a delicious chocolate chip cookie recipe in our family and it puts the icing on the cake at our family gatherings. Over Christmas my immediate family and I spent time with my uncle and his family in Wichita, KS. My uncle has a seven-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, and after much playing with playdoh and coloring we soon became bored and started looking for a new activity. Why not bake chocolate chip cookies?
Well, all we had to say was the word “cookie” and the kids were on board with this activity. My uncle and my mom were adamant about washing the kids’ hands before we started cooking, but that was a hopeless cause. Their hands only had a tiny bit of soap on a few fingers, and there wasn’t even much scrubbing involved. It was just a quick rinse. And as soon as the kids were done washing their hands, they put their hands right back in their mouths, on the floor, on the dog, who knows where else.
I pointed out to my mom that letting the kids mix the ingredients and mixing the batter was a terrible idea. They’ll stick their fingers in it, and they’ll sneeze in it. But it had already been decided that EVERYONE was going to help out with the baking, so the kids went ahead and both took turns stirring the cookie dough.
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a germ-a-phobe, except for some cases and watching these kids contaminate perfectly good chocolate chip cookies just broke my heart. I can only imagine what kinds of germs were in that cookie dough, but hopefully all of the germs were killed when the dough was put into the oven.
However, after the oven when the cookies were sitting on the cooling rack there were a few incidents of kids picking up cookies and then putting them back. The kids were the exact opposite of food inspectors. Instead of carefully examining the cookies with clean hands, the kids picked up the cookies with dirty hands and brought them quite close to their face (even sometimes touching it to their nose) to sniff and see if they tasted good.
Needless to say, I did not have a one of the cookies.
Handwashing is one of the major tools used to combat food borne illness. Kids especially must be supervised to ensure that they use an adequate amount of soap and scrub their hands for at least 20-30 seconds.