Many parents pack a lunch for their children to take to school every day. They may do so to save money, to provide a more nutritious meal, or because their children are fussy eaters. Whatever the reason, the last thing most people think about is whether the lunch they send could make their child sick.
However, in an article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin reported that in a study of lunches packed for preschool-aged children, the food was not as hot or cold as it should have been approximately 98% of the time.
According to the Center for Disease Control, perishable food like yogurt or cold cuts becomes unsafe once the temperature starts to creep into the danger zone—between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That can only take an hour or two without a cold source. This increase in temperature allows harmful bacteria—which could make your child sick—to multiply.
This means that many parents may be unknowingly packing lunches for their children that could make them sick with a food-borne illness. The following are seven safety tips to help keep your kid’s sack lunch safe:
- Wash your hands and clean the food preparation area thoroughly before preparing your child’s lunch in order to prevent the spread of bacteria.
- Use an insulated lunch box or lunch bag to help keep your child’s food cold.
- Use an insulated thermos to help keep hot foods warm until lunchtime. Rinse with boiling water so it is hot before filling with food.
- Use frozen gel packs inside the insulated lunch box to keep cold foods cold. Oddly shaped perishable food— such as yogurt— can be wrapped in a flexible frozen gel pack and placed on top of another ice pack in order to keep it cold.
- Freeze juice boxes, water, or milk to use as an additional ice pack—it will thaw by lunchtime.
- Refrigerate non-perishable items such as apples and oranges so that they will not raise the temperature of the lunch when you add them to the insulated bag.
- Throw away uneaten perishable food and wash your child’s lunch box at the end of the day.
Following these seven sack-lunch safety tips will help prevent your child from eating contaminated food and getting sick from a food-borne illness. David Todd, a New Braunfels child injury attorney at the Todd Law Firm, takes child safety very seriously. If your child is injured and you need legal advice, do not hesitate to call him at 512-472-7799 for a free consultation. Alternatively, you can download a free copy of David’s book, Seven Deadly Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Texas Accident Case, for more information.