Packing a Lunch
Food Safety Advice
You take care to pack your child’s lunch every morning to make sure they receive all the right foods to keep them healthy. What you may not know is that the manner in which their lunches are packed may be the source of food-borne illness if precautions are not taken. The good news is there are certain preventative measures parents can take to ensure that their kids carry safe, healthy lunches to school. Here are some useful tips to keep in mind when packing your child’s lunch:
- Bacteria that cause food-borne illness grow best at room temperature. Between 40°F to 140°F, enough bacteria can grow in 2 hours to make a person sick. Keep perishable foods such as meats, poultry, seafood, eggs and dairy products (including yogurt) cold, below 40° F.
- If the food is handled a lot during preparation, there’s the extra risk of spreading germs from your hands to the food.
- Wash hands thoroughly before preparing food.
- Keep the food preparation area clean to avoid spreading bacteria.
- Be sure utensils are clean.
- Wash food containers, including the lunch box itself, after each use. Consider using washable food storage containers which are easy to sanitize as they can be placed right in your dishwasher for cleaning.
- When using cooked, ready-to-eat luncheon meat for a sandwich, don’t use them after the “use-by” dates on packages. Make sure your luncheon meat is stored tightly in its package or within a Rubbermaid TakeAlongs rectangle in the refrigerator.
- It is best to store lunches in a food storage container in the refrigerator to keep them cold, but often this is not possible at school. A frozen Rubbermaid Blue Ice pack, a container filled with ice, or a frozen drink packed with the food can help keep a lunch chilled for the morning. We all know kids can really test a container’s durability, so for extra security, look no further than Lock-its containers, which should hold up under sustained punishment from the little ones. Like the other three types of containers in the Easy Find Lids System –Premier, Easy Find Lids and Produce Saver – Lock-its nest compactly for neat organization, and they all have lids that snap to their own base, snap to each other and fit multiple bases.
- Advise children to never place their lunches on a window ledge in the sun, but to place them in as cool a place as possible.
- Some lunch foods don’t need to be kept cold to be safe. These foods include:
- Breads, Cereals and Nuts
- Beef Jerky
- Dried Fruits