July 15, 2024

Learn How to Pack a Safe School Lunch For Your Kids

Learn how to pack a safe school lunch this year with tips from Oklahoma State University Extension. While many children get free school lunches, some do prefer to bring a lunch from home. And parents need to be very careful about packing a safe lunch, since children are far more susceptible to serious complications from food poisoning than adults.

Learn How to Pack a Safe School Lunch For Your Kids

An improperly packed sack lunch can make kids sick, especially if the food isn’t kept cold or hot, out of the danger zone of 40°F to 140°F. Pathogenic bacteria can double in food in 20 minutes while in that temperature range.

First, make sure that you purchase a safe lunch box. A double sided insulated box, when packed with a frozen juice box or frozen gel packs, will keep food at a safe temperature for hours. A good thermos should be used to keep soup and stews hot. In fact, fill the thermos with boiling water and let it stand for five minutes, then empty it and fill it with the hot mixture immediately.

Then, when you shop for food for lunches, make sure that you keep the food cold. Buy perishable foods last, and go straight home and put them into the fridge or freezer immediately.

Then when you prepare the food, always start by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Clean the countertops with soap and water and keep animals out of the kitchen. Make sure that you use different cutting boards for meats and poultry and seafood and foods that are eaten uncooked such as produce to avoid cross-contamination. Cook foods to safe final internal temperatures, and refrigerate any food you prepare as soon as possible.

Only pack enough food that can be eaten at lunchtime. No food should be saved for after school unless it is non-perishable. Food such as crackers or whole fresh fruit could be used as an after-school snack. Remember that an insulated lunch box can only keep food cool for a few hours; it can’t cool food to a safe temperature.

Finally, make sure that all leftovers are discarded and are not reused. Clean the lunchbox with soap and water after your child gets home from school so it can be used the next day.

Now that you now how to pack a safe school lunch, have a great new year!

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