Back-to-school safety doesn’t only involve taking precautions to avoid traffic accidents, it also involves making sure our children’s lunch food is always safe.
When thinking about what to prepare for our children’s meal that is both healthy and safe, many parents question their own choices. But according to the the USDA’s Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, there’s no need to stress over this issue. The most important thing is to keep children safe from experiencing food poisoning.
To reach that goal, the expert urges parents to wash their hands and keep different items at the correct temperature at all times. That will help keep the food from being exposed to bacteria.
One of the first steps is to remember that bacteria is capable of living for up 32 hours on surfaces. So avoid contamination by washing containers, utensils, and cutting boards while handing different items such as sandwich bread and meat.
To avoid further health issues, you may follow other important safety steps to avoid risks.
Use warm water and soap to wash your hands before handling food. When washing surfaces, use hot water and soap. Wash hands and surfaces before and after food preparation.
Always rinse raw produce in water before preparing it, and use separate cutting boards for raw meat and poultry, and another for produce.
Checking lunch bags and coolers to ensure they are clean before packing is essential, but adding moist towelettes so that children can clean their hands before and after eating is also important.
To pack meat, eggs, yogurt, or cheese, use at least two freezer packs to protect them.
When packing hot lunches, use insulated containers. Before packing the food, fill the container with boiling water and let it stand for a few minutes, then empty it and put the hot food in.
Tell the child to not open the container until lunchtime to preserve the heat.
If you are cooking poultry and meat, the food item must reach the correct temperature, otherwise, harmful bacteria may linger.
Also, when packaging soups, chili, or stews, heat the food to 165°F. If using perishable items, always chill the items within two hours. If perishable items were left at room temperature for longer than two hours, discard them.
For more safety tips so that your children’s lunch is protected from contamination, follow this link.