The majority of sack school lunches may be unsafe according to a study by the University of Texas. Researchers visited nine pre-school child-care centers on three separate occasions to measure the temperature of hundreds of sandwiches, yogurts, and other lunch foods brought from home.

According to Time magazine, 97% of meats, 99% of dairy products, and 99% of vegetables were stored at unsafe temperatures. Of the 1,361 perishable foods that were tested, only 22 were at temperatures considered safe.

According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in temperatures between 40 and 140 °F. So, perishable food stored without an ice source won't stay safe long.

Here are safe handling recommendations to prevent foodborne illness from "bag" lunches:

  • Prepare cooked food, such as turkey, ham, chicken, and vegetable or pasta salads, ahead of time to allow for thorough chilling in the refrigerator.
  • Keep cold lunches cold. To keep lunches cold away from home, include at least two cold sources. You can use two frozen gel packs (not smaller than 5x3-inches each) or combine a frozen gel pack with a frozen juice box or frozen bottle of water.
  • Keep hot lunches hot.  Use an insulated container to keep food like soup, chili, and stew hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food hot
  • When using the microwave oven to reheat food, cover the food to hold in moisture. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 °F making sure to use a food thermometer to be sure a safe temperature has been reached before consuming the food.

For more information, hit up the USDA's website HERE.

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