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Published on Aug 10, 2011 by Edgar Snyder

Back-to-School Tip: Pack Extra Ice in Your Child's Lunchbox

children's lunch

It's just a few weeks until the kids head back to school, so I thought it would be a good time to talk about an interesting article I read today on CNN's website.

If you have school-aged children, chances are you've packed them a lunch. Maybe you only do it for field trips, or perhaps you do it every day. Before you hand that paper bag or lunchbox to your child, remember to include an ice pack.

Texas researchers led a study on the lunches of preschool-aged kids. About 98% of the time their food wasn't the right temperature to be safe to eat! Many lunches had been packed in a thermos or insulated lunch box, but the food was still too cold or hot to consume safely.

It's important to remember that foods like milk, meat, and sliced fruits become dangerous to eat or drink very quickly – as soon as they reach temperatures above 40º F. Additionally, hot foods like Spaghetti-Os and soup should remain at 140º F or above. Since packed lunches usually sit for more than two hours, it's quite common for the food and drink temperatures to rise or drop significantly. When that happens, bacteria go to work and pose serious health risks to your children.

I can't stress enough how important it is to follow the proper guidelines for food safety – especially for kids. Children younger than 3 are 4.5 times more likely than adults who are 49 or younger to suffer from food poisoning. There are many simple steps you can take to make sure your child's food stays safe to eat:

  • Choose a lunchbox that's insulated. Doing this alone won't guarantee that the food will stay at a healthy temperature, but it will help.
  • Include two ice packs. You can also put in a frozen drink as well.
  • If your child's day care or classroom has a refrigerator, ask to use it.
  • Before you go to bed at night, put your child's milk or juice, and even yogurt or cheese, in the freezer. When you put those items in the lunchbox, they will stay colder for much longer when frozen. You can also do this with meat to put in your child's sandwich – but you can add the lettuce and tomato when making the sandwich in the morning.
  • If you want to pack hot foods, first pour boiling water into the thermos. Then empty the thermos and pour hot soup or Spaghetti-Os into the container.

Don't forget to follow these guidelines yourself as well. For more information on food safety, please visit EdgarSnyder.com.

Good luck getting ready for the start of another school year!

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