Keeping Lunches Cold-- A SAFETY ISSUE

September 19, 2012

Macaroni Safety

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Debby Perry
Keeping things cold!  Brrr….  

Now that the kids have been back to school for a while and everyone is getting used to their new routines, it's a good time to ensure that the lunches they pack are SAFE!

Did you know that the optimal SAFE FOOD lunch box temperature is 40 degrees F or below? This ensures that items are chilled properly and won't spoil. When doing some research for this article, we ran across a Good Housekeeping article.  

Good Housekeeping conducted a test of 43 lunch boxes. Do you know what they found? 

"Unfortunately, in our tests at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, we discovered that even when packed with a large ice pack, none of the 43 lunch boxes tested could keep food adequately chilled for 2 hours."

Yikes. That's scary. 

We scoured the web to find some tips to help you out! 

Know your child's lunch time.
Count backward from that time. Is it more than 2 hours? Most foods spoil after this amount of time, if not kept at proper temperatures. The CDC recommends throwing away any perishable food (milk, meat, sliced fruits) that has been in temperatures above 40 degrees F-- especially if it's been more than 2 hours.

Keep Cool 
If you can, arrange to refrigerate your child's lunch.  

Chill Out
Add additional ice packs if you have them and utilize what you have on hand as well.  

Refrigerate or freeze ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that you can. 
  • Yogurts, soft cheese-- can all be frozen. 
  • Whole Fruit. Keeping it COLD helps to add additional "chill" factor to the bag! So refrigerate it! 
  • Freeze juice pouches.  

  • Freeze a water bottle also. Either one, the kids can drink if need be when they are thawed. 
  • Have a re-usable water bottle like we do? Freeze 3/4 of the contents overnight in a bottle that can handle "freezing." 

In the morning, add the rest of the drink. It should stay chilled most of the day! 

We love OXO's Twist Top Bottles.  They clip to the backpacks as well!  

Kick Perishables To The Curb 
Steer clear of mayo, meat, cheese, milk and other perishables if that time between leaving home and lunch time is well over a safe amount of "chill" time. 

Buy Your Piece of Mind
When in doubt... maybe just buy school lunch. Many schools have actually moved to school provided lunches ONLY-- because of the "challenge" of keeping foods safe. 

Treat… Your Bag With Care
Our research found that SOME insulated bags are hindered and not able to do their job of keeping things cool when stored inside the refrigerator. Pack up the bags in the morning.

Do you have any food safety tips to share?

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