Packing a child’s lunch for school may not always be the easiest job, but keeping your child safe from foodborne illnesses shouldn’t be a challenge, according to Judy Harrison, a Cooperative Extension foods specialist.
The general rule is to make sure perishable foods are not left at room temperature for more than two hours. Using a thermos or aluminum foil to insulate hot foods or placing an ice pack in the lunchbox for cold foods can prevent foods from going bad and becoming unsafe.
“One idea is to use a frozen juice box as a way to keep the food at or below 40 degrees,” Harrison said.
Lunch foods that can be quick to make and kept at room temperature include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tuna lunch kits and whole fruit such as apples, oranges and bananas.
Bacteria grow quickly in moist foods that aren’t very acidic but are high in protein. Items such as deli meats, dairy products, cut fruits and vegetables and cooked foods like soups or stews should be kept at an appropriate temperature.
It’s also important to make sure your children know the importance of washing their hands before eating.