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Food Safety Experts Offer Tips On Packing Safe Lunches | #schoolsaftey

As kids return to school, parents are also returning to packing school lunches.

But there’s a health risk in your child’s lunchbox many parents aren’t aware of.

When Sara Fischer packs a lunch for her 7-year old Harlow, she tries to balance healthy snacks with food she’ll actually eat.

“She’ll ask for her- make her own style Lunchables. So I’ll cut cheese up into squares, sometimes we do it with a little turkey, pepperoni, crackers,” Fischer said.


Healthy food is important, but there’s another potential risk parents should consider when making a school lunch: foodborne illnesses.

“Young children are a group of the population particularly susceptible to food borne illness, and serious food borne illness,” said Sandra Eskin with the USDA’s Food Safety division.

Eskin says foodborne illnesses cause 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.

One mistake parents make when making lunches is not keeping cold food at 40 degrees or lower to prevent bacteria. The classic brown paper bag won’t cut it.


“There are small ice packs, there are small cold packs, and you can also use a juice box or a water bottle that you put in the freezer night before and you stick it in the lunchbox,” Eskin said.

She adds that when preparing a lunch, keep kitchen surfaces clean and keep raw meat away from other types of food.

Many parents say they’re mindful of the risks of letting food get contaminated.

“That’s always a big concern, making sure things stay fresh throughout the day,” said parent Shavonn Daley.

“I actually bought one of the little bento boxes that has the freezer part, that attaches to it, so it stays in the freezer,” said Sara Fischer.

Another tip- experts say hot food should be kept above 140 degrees. You can add a bottle of boiling water to a lunchbox to keep the food at just the right temperature all day.

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