How safe is your packed lunch?
Do you take the time to shop for healthy food, then pack lunch for yourself for work or for your kids for school? If you do, then odds are that you care about eating right and see this as important for your children too. All good so far!
Here comes the crunch . . . do you put that healthy lunch into a lunchbox which includes an icepack or frozen drink to ensure that the temperature of that lunch stays within safe levels for the food inside? Do you pop it in a refrigerator when you get to work to store it safely?
If left in the danger temperature zone between 5ºC – 60ºC for four hours, perishable food becomes unsafe to eat. Four hours is about the time between leaving home and lunchtime!
I am sure we all agree that there is clear scientific evidence that lowering the temperature of perishable food decreases bacteria growth. Why then did a recent survey find that more than a quarter of those who take packed lunch don’t have anything enclosed with it to keep it cool?
Quite apart from the fact that the lunch you prepare will be more enjoyable if it is cool and fresh, having a nice cold drink to enjoy with it is an added benefit. With the high temperatures we experience here during Australian summers, hydration is also extremely necessary for us all.
If you are packing lunch for children then it is important to understand just how vulnerable kids can be – food poisoning can have long term harmful effects such as reactive arthritis.
Remember . . . always wash your hands and utensils when preparing lunches and, of course, always wash your hands before eating it.
Educate your kids about the importance of washing their hands prior to eating and supply them with some hand sanitiser or moist towelettes for their school bags.
Thoroughly wash and dry their lunch box and drink bottle every day. Replace these items if cracks or splits appear in them because nasty bugs will grow in them.
Encourage your kids to keep their lunchbox in their school bag and their school bag in a cool place, out of direct sunlight, until it is time to eat.
Although packing a lunch to take to work is cost effective, it also needs to be healthy! Bacteria really likes to grow on things such as salads and cold meats, and whilst last night’s leftovers may be delicious, they need to be kept in the fridge until you are ready to heat and eat them.