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How can I make sure my child's packed lunch is safe?

Insulated lunch boxes along with a frozen ice pack are the best bet to help keep your edibles at a safe temperature until lunchtime. You should also instruct a child to throw away all perishable leftovers after lunch. The inside and outside of the lunch box should also be thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water and rinsed clean in between uses. 

Perishable foods such as yogurt, meats, and cut up fruits and vegetables, should remain chilled at 40 degrees F or below to slow down the pathogens’ ability to multiply to dangerous levels. Perishables that are left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours should be tossed as they are unsafe to consume. 
Follow these tips to keep your child's packed lunches both tasting good and safe to eat:
  • Keep it clean. Wash your hands before preparing your child's lunch and clean your child's bag or lunch box with warm soapy water before each use.
  • Keep it cold. If you include perishable items, keep them properly chilled with an insulated lunch bag and ice pack. Don't have an ice pack? Use a frozen water bottle. It works just as well and doubles as a refreshing noon-time drink.
  • Opt for non-perishable options. Swap out foods that spoil easily with more shelf-stable options. Trail mix, granola bars, bagels, carrot sticks, whole fruit, single-serve apple sauce, cans of tuna and peanut butter are all good picks.
  • Rinse fruits. Bathe both ready-to-eat fruits (apples, grapes, berries) and fruits with a peel (oranges, bananas) in cold water. Washing the outer layer of all fruits eliminates harmful bacteria that can spread during peeling or cutting.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.