Are you one of those parents that packs your child's lunch in the hopes of providing them a healthier option? Turns out, you might actually be putting them at risk of getting sick.
It's not because your turkey and cheese sandwich isn't healthier for them than the cafeteria pizza (which, let's not forget, is a vegetable) but because storing that turkey sandwich at a safe temperature can be challenging. A study in the journal Pediatrics found that 90 percent of children's packed lunches reached unsafe temperatures before lunchtime.
These temperatures, along with improper preparation, pose the risk of food borne illnesses. And since the last thing we want to do is get our children sick, check out the safety tips below on how to pack a healthy, and safe, lunch.
When packing your kid's lunch, wash your hands under hot, soapy water for 20 seconds. Also be sure that your work area where you prepare the school lunch is clean and wiped down.
Ice packs are one of the more important items in a lunchbox. Having one of two ice packs in a school lunch containing perishable items will help keep the food at safe temperatures. Be sure to wash the ice pack after every use.
Insulated Lunch Bags
While brown bag lunches are easier to deal with (nothing to clean up at the end of the day), insulated bags will help keep school lunches at safe temperatures.
Don't forget to wash fruits and vegetables before packing them for lunch -- even for produce that will be peeled before eating. The pesticides and germs can potentially contaminate other foods in the lunch bag.
If you plan on packing hot foods for lunch, it's a good idea to invest in a thermos. Before packing, fill the thermos with boiling water and let it sit for a couple of minutes. This helps bring the temperature up -- and keep it up.
Try To Refrigerate
While not all schools offer this option, some of them do have refrigerators available for storing packed lunches. Inquire with your child's school; this is the best way to keep a packed lunch safe.
Keep The Lunchbox Clean
Even if the lunch bag doesn't look dirty, wash it out every night. Remember, germs can't be seen. Also be sure that your child throws out their food scraps and leftovers right after eating lunch. Leaving them in the bag for you to deal with hours and hours later creates a breeding ground for germs.
WATCH: How To Pack Healthy School Lunches