MIAMI – As kids return to school, parents are also returning to packing school lunches.
But there’s a health risk in your child’s lunchbox that many parents aren’t aware of.
Packing healthy food is important but there’s a potential risk parents should consider when making a school lunch -foodborne illnesses.
“Young children are a group of the population particularly susceptible to foodborne illness, and serious foodborne illness,” Sandra Eskin, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, USDA.
Eskin said foodborne illnesses cause 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the US every year. One mistake parents make when making lunches is not keeping cold food at 40 degrees or lower to prevent bacteria. The old brown paper bag won’t cut it.
“There are small ice packs, there are small cold packs and you can also use a juice box or a water bottle that you put in the freezer the night before and you stick it in the lunchbox,” said Eskin.
She said when preparing a lunch, keep kitchen surfaces clean and keep raw meat away from other types of food. Many parents say they’re mindful of the risks of letting food get contaminated.
“I actually bought one of the little bento boxes that has the freezer part, that attaches to it, so it stays in the freezer,” said Sara Fischer.
Another tip, experts say hot food should be kept above 140 degrees. You can add a bottle of boiling water to a lunchbox to keep the food at just the right temperature all day.
With just a few simple steps, parents and kids can get an A+ in food safety.