Reviewed by Roy Benaroch on September 13, 2012

Sources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Harley A. Rotbart, MD, author of "Germ Proof Your Kids." Gregory L. Burke, PA-C, MMSc, DFAAPA, NorthLake Pediatrics, Atlanta, Ga.

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Video Transcript

Christine Curtin, Mother of four: Sam, do you want to do the mix?

Narrator: Chris Curtin's kids love to help out when she's baking brownies. It a fun bonding time for the family, but like many moms with toddlers, Chris worries about the cooking lesson becoming a recipe for disaster.

Christine Curtin, Mother of four: Can they lick the spoon? That's always what everybody wants to do.

Narrator: Although most eggs in the United States are safe, a small percentage can contain salmonella bacteria and so many health experts discourage eating anything containing raw egg—like cake batter. In order to separate hysteria from common sense, WebMD connected Chris with Greg Burke, a pediatric physician's assistant who knows a thing or two about how food-borne illnesses can take hold:

Gregory L. Burke, PA, Physician's Assistant: Generally speaking it's the outside of the egg that you're worried about. As long as the egg is intact and the shell is not cracked, if you wash your hands after you touch the egg you should be safe.

Narrator: It's virtually impossible to create a completely sterile environment. The goal say experts is to lessen the chances that serious illness will occur from improper hygiene and unsafe food handling practices:

Christine Curtin Mother of four: Well sometimes when I’m cooking the kids are under my feet, and whether it's raw chicken or ground beef, There's some juice that might be left on the counter. And if I turn by back really quickly sometimes their hands might end up in that.

Gregory L. Burke, Physician's Assistant: You'll hear me say this time and time again; just frequent hand washing is going to be the most important thing in keeping the kids safe.

Harley A. Rotbart, MD Author, Germ-proof Your Kids: Raw chicken is dangerous, raw beef is dangerous, and raw vegetables are dangerous until they are all properly washed or cooked respectively. And so, when you're handling raw food and you have to handle raw food, because you can't only buy cooked food. When you're handling raw food, you have to realize that your hands and your kids' hands cannot go from raw food to face.

Narrator: And thoroughly cleaning surfaces where raw food has been is also especially important:

Gregory L. Burke, Physician's Assistant: Well generally most of your commercial cleaning solutions are going to be able to take care of the bacteria that you have present. If you want to do something that's nice and easy you can use a bleach solution.

Narrator: A quarter cup of household bleach per gallon of cool water should do the trick. Cutting boards can be scrubbed using soap and hot water, or be put into the dishwasher if they're designed for high temperatures.

Gregory L. Burke, Physician's Assistant: So just using the best practices that you can, knowing that you're keeping your surfaces as clean as possible—that's the most important thing.

Narrator: For WebMD, I'm Damon Meharg.