Keep “Bac” Out of School Lunch Packs
Tips to keep your children's lunch safe
Packing a winning school lunch can be a bit of a balancing act. You want it to be healthy and provide them with the energy they need to get through the day. Of course, it has to be something your child is willing to eat. Then there’s the question of safety – keeping the food free from harmful bacteria.
What’s a parent to do?
Try some of these simple tips to packing a healthy and safe lunch:
- Wash hands and surfaces before you begin preparing.
- Rinse all fresh vegetable or fruit that will be packed and pat them dry.
- Keep food separated and at their appropriate temperatures – cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Heating, cooling, re-heating can promote the growth of bacteria growth.
- A lunch containing perishable food should have two cooling sources to help keep things bacteria at bay until it’s time to eat. These can be ice packs, a frozen water or frozen juice box.
- Avoid the urge to pack the sack the night before. A fully packed and sealed lunch box in the fridge may not allow as much cool air to flow through. Keep prepared food in the fridge and then pack it all in the morning.
- Use insulated containers when packing something hot. Take it one step further- first fill the insulated container with piping hot water and let it sit for a few minutes, then add the hot meal. Prepping the container beforehand sets a hot baseline temperature to better hold temperature until lunch time.
- Choose the container wisely. Brown bags do not do a good job of maintaining a constant temperature. Aim for an insulated or soft-sided lunch bag.
- If a refrigerator is available, encourage your child to store their lunch there until it’s time to eat.
- Encourage your child to their wash hands before and after eating. You might want to keep hand sanitizer or disposable wipes in their lunch box.
What about leftovers? Anything that is perishable should be thrown away if it can’t be kept at the right temperature. This is one time when it is OK to “waste” food.
Taking a few extra steps could ensure a satisfying and safe lunch for your little one, sans bacteria.