As the summer winds down and school is back in session, many parents are faced with packing lunches that need to be satisfying, nutritious, and safe. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to food poisoning. Parents need to take precautions to be sure they are not accidentally putting their kids at risk.
Here are a few tips to packing a safe lunch:
- Frozen juice boxes can be used as freezer packs. By lunch time, they will thaw and are ready to drink.
- You can purchase insulated bags or boxes to help keep perishable foods cold.
- Children should wash their hands with warm soapy water before eating. They should say their ABC’s twice to be sure they have washed them long enough. Parents should take time to demonstrate how to do this properly being sure to show how to wash between fingers and under fingernails.
- If you are packing a hot lunch, like soup or chili, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Remind your child to leave it closed until lunch in order to keep it hot.
- After lunch, tell them to discard all leftover food and packaging. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food.
- Always include a freezer brick or frozen water bottle with lunches that contain perishable foods.
By following these simple guidelines, you will help to prevent your child from getting food poisoning.
A few other suggestions:
- If you buy a lunch bag or box that is machine-washable, you are allowing for a sanitary way to carry their lunch. Be sure to test to make sure it is leak-proof.
- By putting food in a divided container with a lid, you are saving money by not purchasing storage bags and creating less waste.
- Try to use whole fruits instead of sliced or cubed pieces-these will keep fresh longer.
Need ideas about what to pack…….click here!
Written by: Tammy Jones, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension – Pike County, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reviewed by: Joanna Rini, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension – Medina County, email@example.com