Is the food in your child’s lunch box safe to eat?
As children are heading back to school this fall, many parents are wondering what to pack in school lunch boxes. Packing a healthy, nutritious lunch is important to ensure kids have the fuel they need to get through a long day of school. Even more important, is making sure that the food inside the lunch box is safe to eat. Proper food storage is key to lunch box safety.
Food Safety Specialist, Diane Van, of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, recommends an insulated lunch box as the best investment of the school year. “For a few dollars, an insulated lunch box can keep children healthy and engaged to learn by protecting them from food borne illness”, says Diane Von. From the time your child leaves the house the temperature of her lunch begins to rise. Once perishable foods such as cold cut sandwiches and yogurt reach temperatures of 40°F or above, they should be eaten within 2 hours to minimize the risk of food borne illness.
To keep your child’s lunch safe to eat try packing your child’s lunch in an insulated lunch box with a freezer gel pack.
Tips to Keep Your Child’s Food Safe Until Lunchtime
Freeze the sandwich. Even when packed with an ice pack, sandwiches with perishable meats and cheese will not stay at a safe temperature until lunchtime. By freezing the sandwich the night before and packing it with an ice pack, a sandwich can stay cold and safe to eat until lunchtime.
Freeze a juice box. You can freeze juice boxes and use them as freezer packs. By lunchtime, the juice should be thawed and ready to drink. Another great food to freeze is Yoplait’s Go-GURT which is low-fat yogurt in a tube.
Pack non-perishable foods. As if creating a healthy lunch for your kids weren’t already challenging enough, a study done by the University of Texas and published in Pediatrics, recommended that we avoid putting perishables in lunch boxes all together.
Non-Perishable Lunch Foods
whole fruits and vegetables
hard cheese (Babybell Cheese is a good option)
canned meat and fish
dried fruits and nuts
roasted veggie sandwich
Horizon organic milk boxes
The bottom line is that we need to conscientious about what we put in our kids’ lunch boxes and keeping it stored properly or we could be setting ourselves up for some sick days at home.
Please leave a comment below with your favorite healthy non-perishable foods for kid’s lunches.