it’s more important now than ever to be vigilant about preparing and packing healthy, safe school lunches. The Food Safe Families Campaign (a partnership on behalf of the Ad Council, USDA, FDA and CDC) is helping parents protect their families from foodborne illness.
Food poisoning is not simply an upset stomach; it is a serious public health threat in America. In fact, the CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans (about 48 million people) could suffer from food borne illness this year. The result is approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and sadly, an estimated 3,000 deaths!
Tip #1: If the lunch you’re packing contains perishable food items like cold cut meats, eggs and yogurt, make sure to pack it with freezer packs or keep it otherwise chilled. Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the "Danger Zone" — the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F (4.4 °C and 60 °C). So, perishable food transported without an ice source won't stay safe long.
Tip #2: Frozen juice boxes can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze juice boxes overnight and use as freezer packs. By lunchtime, the juice should be thawed and ready to drink!
Tip #3: Pack lunches in an insulated, soft-sided lunch bag. Lunches with perishable food items can be unsafe to eat by lunchtime if packed in an old-fashioned brown paper bag.
Tip #4: If there is a refrigerator at school, tell your child to keep their lunch inside. But leave the lid of the lunchbox or bag open so that cold air can better circulate and keep the food cold.
Tip #5: After lunch, discard all leftover food, used food packaging, and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause food borne illness.