Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

You’ve packed an extra dose of love in your child’s cold lunch, but it’s possible that you’re packing something unintended: food poisoning!

Sending a packed lunch to school with your child is a great way to make sure they’re getting foods that are healthy – ones they’ll actually eat. Familiar foods are often better than the mystery scoop of meat goo served by the school cafeteria, and you can relax knowing they won’t starve their way through the afternoon. Unfortunately, packed lunches can also be a prime source of salmonella, e. coli, botulism and unintended additions.

The best way to make sure the food you send is safe? Pack things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that can safely be stored at room temperature or keep it cold!

Bacteria growth occurs between 40 and 140 degrees, so the food your kids eat needs to be colder – or hotter – than that. Find out if your child’s classroom has a refrigerator for lunches. If there is a fridge, make sure your child gets their lunch in it every day. If there’s not a fridge, you’ll need to make sure you use a soft-sided insulated lunch bag with ice packs. (A frozen bottle of water works well too).

If you question whether or not the food will still be cold, don’t send it!

Leftovers can make a great next-day lunch from home for your kids, but in addition to being able to keep it cold, you need to have prepared it properly the night before. Meats should be thoroughly cooked, and meals should be cooled down and stored properly.

The biggest culprit that can taint your child’s food can often be their lunch bag. When the lunch bag comes home, use a disposable bleach cloth to wipe it out thoroughly and leave it out to dry (bacteria likes moisture).

Have additional tips to share about safe lunches? Share them with us…