As the summer school break comes to an end and packing lunches is a nightly routine, it is important to remember to make sure the lunch is handles properly and safe to eat. Perishable food must be kept cold. Here are some back to school food safety tips:
- Wash hands with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food.
- Wash utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
- Use clean packaging and bags.
Separate – Don’t Cross Contaminate
- Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry to avoid cross contamination.
- At lunchtime, discard all used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.
Chill – Keep Lunches Cold
- Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth and keeps food safe.
- Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40 and 140°F.
- Keep perishable food refrigerated until time to leave home.
- Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box with perishable food in the insulated lunch bag or lunch box.
- Use an insulated soft-sided bag if possible. It’s best for keeping food cold.
- Store perishable items in a refrigerator (if available) immediately upon arrival.
Keep Hot Lunches Hot
- Use an insulated container to keep hot food hot — 140°F or above.
- Cook frozen convenience meals according to package instructions, including standing time if using a microwave.
Author: Susan Zies, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator, Wood County, http://wood.osu.edu/.
Reviewed by: Lisa Barlage, Ohio State University Extension, Family & Consumer Sciences Educator.