Lunch box food safety is an important part of healthy eating as many of the healthy foods and snacks we pack are perishable. As the weather begins to warm up, lunch box food safety is definitely something to factor into lunch meal planning and preparation. For many people, packing fresh, perishable, foods is avoided due to their spoiling nature or the altered taste when eaten warm. These are however the very foods that should be carried by school going children and office bound adults alike.
To reduce bacterial growth or contamination, and therefore optimize food safety, food should not be kept at in the temperature danger zone for more than 4 hours. The danger zone temperature is between 4.4 and 60 C. If left in this temperature range, food can easily spoil and introduce harmful bacteria into the gut resulting in food-borne illness. In the cold zone, bacteria cannot grow and in the hot zone, bacteria are destroyed.
As a rule, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Pack hot soup or stew in a thermo flask that has first been warm with hot water. Leftovers from the fridge should be kept cool until rewarmed. If a lunch box contains perishable items such as yoghurt, meat, cheese or eggs, measures need to be taken to keep the lunch box cool. Some foods should rather be left out of lunch boxes all together as the risk is just too high. These include, raw egg salad dressings (Caesar) or homemade mayo and sushi.
Below are 10 tips for lunch box food safety prepping and packing but may favourite lunch box food safety find is reusable ice blocks. Quite simply, they act as mini ice bricks and can be tucked between food items… and these are too cute!
5 lunch box food safety prepping tips
- wash counters and hands before handling lunch ingredients
- use separate chopping boards and knives for meat, vegetables and bread
- if preparing lunch boxes the night before, keep all items in the fridge overnight.
- send whole fruit, rather than chopped fruit (apples, strawberries, naartjies)
- use unpeeled, whole vegetables such as mini cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and carrots (washed)
5 lunch box food safety packing tips
- refrigerate washed fruit overnight so that it leaves the house extra cold
- use clean and dry containers that seal well
- use a cooler bag with a small ice brick to carry lunch box items
- add additional ice bricks or a frozen water bottle for extra hot, extra long days
- freeze yoghurt or smoothies if they are to be consumed later in the day (second break / sport)
Lunch box recipes:
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