How do you keep a sack lunch safe to eat during the summer?
Food safety and summer sack lunches.
Is your child going on an end of the school year field trip or attending a day camp and you have to pack a lunch that is disposable? Packing a lunch may not be something new, but when you can’t use ice packs, what do you do? With high summer temperatures, is your child’s lunch safe when it’s time to eat?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) perishable foods are at risk for multiplying bacteria once it is between the temperatures of 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. This is known as the “danger zone.” Perishable foods, like lunch meats, dairy products, sliced vegetables and fruits, become unsafe if the temperature of the food is within the “danger zone” limits for more than two hours. The two hour time frame lessens to one hour if the outside temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If the food has been in the “danger zone” for too long and is unsafe it should be thrown out. Keep in mind the motto, “when in doubt, throw it out.”
Michigan State University Extension suggests the following tips to keep your child’s bagged lunch safe so you have one less thing to worry about.
Tips to keep packed lunches safe:
- Clean hands
- Make sure that hands are washed and cleaned before food is prepared or eaten. If water is not available at lunch time, hand sanitizer is an alternative.
- Choose non-perishable foods
- Foods that would stay safe without being kept cold include whole fruits and vegetables, crackers, breads, peanut butter, jelly, dried fruits and nuts.
- Keep lunches cold
- Use a frozen water bottle or juice box to keep a lunch cold. By lunchtime, the frozen item should be ready to enjoy.
Keep these tips in mind throughout the school year and on those summer car trips also. Safe food means that special trips and be enjoyed and not ruined by bacteria. Pack a healthy, safe lunch for your child to enjoy.