1. Home  
  2. Health  
  3. Nutrition  
  4. Food Safety  
  5. Cooking with children

Cooking with children


Cooking activities with children can take place at home or at educational childcare services, schools and summer camps.

There are many benefits to cooking with children, including:

  • Associating cooking with fun and togetherness
  • Encouraging children to explore and be open to a wide variety of foods
  • Creating healthy food habits
  • Learning cooking skills
  • Instilling good food hygiene and safety practices

However, it’s important to make arrangements to ensure everyone has fun and stays safe.

Foods to avoid

Some foods are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Special care is required with eggs, sprouts and microgreens, meat, poultry and fish. Children should not handle these foods raw.

Children under 5 should not handle raw milk cheese or unpasteurized milk and fruit juice.

General notice

Mandatory food safety and hygiene training

If you are leading culinary activities with groups of children, there are some requirements you must meet.

Check whether you need to take a food safety and hygiene training course This hyperlink will open in a new window. (French only).
See the list of authorized trainers This hyperlink will open in a new window., if applicable (French only).

Preparing food, surfaces and utensils

It is important to follow these hygiene and safety rules to avoid contamination.

  • To avoid food waste, determine the quantity of ingredients needed for the recipe.
  • Keep perishable foods in the refrigerator between 0°C and 4°C until the activity begins. Foods such as dairy products, meat and cooked eggs should not be left at room temperature for too long.
  • Protect food from sneezes, dust, insects and animals.
  • Remove all jewellery, tie up long hair and roll up your sleeves.
  • Wear an apron, if possible.
  • Clean all work surfaces, utensils and equipment with soap and hot water before and after you prepare food.
  • Wash your hands with warm water and gentle soap before cooking. This step is important because hands can carry bacteria. Participants must wash their hands again if they put their fingers in their nose, cough, sneeze, touch something dirty or use the bathroom while cooking is ongoing.
  • Use a clean spoon to taste what you’re cooking. Wash the spoon before using it again. Do not use your fingers to taste.

When the activity is over

Quickly put the food in the refrigerator, freezer or oven.

It is best to discard food that has been handled by children but not used in the recipe.

Additional precautions

Preventive action is required in some situations. 

A participant has diarrhea, nausea, vomiting or fever: The participant should not take part in the activity. 

A participant has a cut on their hand: Cover the wound with a bandage and have the participant wear a waterproof glove. If this is not possible, the participant cannot take part in the cooking activity. Pay attention to exposed areas. 

A participant is injured during the activity: Discard any food that has come into contact with blood or the wound.

There is a gastroenteritis outbreak in the facility or among the participants: Suspend or postpone all culinary activities.

Planning a cooking workshop

When cooking with children, choose simple recipes that require few steps and tools.

Individual recipe  

Ideally, a cooking workshop should guide each child to prepare an individual dish. This reduces the risk of contamination.

The possibilities are endless. For example, children could make:  

  • Their own dip: just mix plain yogurt and herbs
  • A personal pizza or wrap: it’s fun to garnish a whole-grain pita or tortilla with vegetables, cheese, legumes, meat or cooked poultry 
  • A special dessert: add yogurt, granola and their choice of fruit to a glass in alternating layers

Group recipe

What if each child participates in one step of the recipe? Here are some more tips. 

As often as possible, handle food with utensils, not hands. For example, use containers to sprinkle spices directly on the food.

Choose simple recipes, such as vegetable or bean salads, salsa, smoothies, granola bars or muffins.

Parchment paper is very useful for food that needs to be baked on baking sheets. You can write each child’s name on the paper near what they’ve made, so they can be sure to eat their own creation.

Allergies and intolerances 

Some children with allergies or intolerances are unaware that allergens can be present in food. The people in charge of the activity must remove all allergens that may trigger adverse reactions in any participants.

Additional precautions for children under the age of 4

Follow these tips to prevent choking:

  • Remove cores, seeds and pits from fruit 
  • Cut grapes into quarters 
  • Grate hard fruits and vegetables like carrots, turnips and apples 

Food sale permit

If cooked food is to be sold (in a fundraiser, for example), the person in charge must obtain a permit.

For more information about permits, please contact the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation:
Telephone (toll-free): 1-800-463-6210
Email: permislegers@mapaq.gouv.qc.ca

Last update: March 28, 2024


Was the information on this page useful to you?
General notice

You have questions or require additional information?

Please contact Services Québec