What’s in Your Lunchbox?

Closeup photo of a ham sandich with tomatoes and lettuce.Recently in the News Journal there have been articles about the closure of several popular Delaware eateries as a result of poor food handling and unsanitary conditions.  But did you know that these same problems exist in people’s homes and can lead to the same outcome of food-borne illness?  This time of year when more lunches are being packed it’s important to keep food safety in mind. And coincidentally September is National Food Safety month.  Here’s some things to keep in mind to pack a safe lunch.

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry
  • Discard all food packaging and food bags after use.
  • Perishable leftovers should be discarded after lunch.
  • Clean the lunch box after each use with warm soapy water

Wash All Produce:

  • Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables under running tap water prior to packing them for lunch
  • All fresh fruit and vegetables need to be rinsed prior to use or consumption including all organic produce and those with skin and rinds that are not eaten
  • Blot dry with a single use paper towel or a clean towel

Keep Everything Clean:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before packing a lunch and before eating lunch.
  • Wash utensils and countertops before and after preparing each food item
  • Encourage children to wash their hands prior to eating lunch at school but pack a moist towelette or hand sanitizer to be safe.

If Packing Cold Food-Keep Lunches Cold:

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in temperature danger zone (between 40 and 140° F)
  • Keep perishable food items refrigerated until time to leave home
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box
  • Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box
  • Do not let lunch sit in a warm place such as the car or in the sun

If Packing Hot Food-Keep Lunches Hot:

  • Use an insulated container to keep food like soup and stew hot
  • Fill container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then fill with piping hot food.
  • Keep container closed tight until lunch time
  • Keep hot food at or above 140° F
  • Perishable food items will stay safe for only 2 hours at room temperature.

There is great consumer food safety information at this site http://www.fightbac.org/ or feel free to contact me, Kathleen Splane with questions

Separate: Don’t Cross Contaminate:

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry
  • Discard all food packaging and food bags after use.
  • Perishable leftovers should be discarded after lunch.
  • Clean the lunch box after each use with warm soapy water

Wash All Produce:

  • Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables under running tap water prior to packing them for lunch
  • All fresh fruit and vegetables need to be rinsed prior to use or consumption including all organic produce and those with skin and rinds that are not eaten
  • Blot dry with a single use paper towel or a clean towel

Keep Everything Clean:

  • Wash hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water before packing a lunch and before eating lunch.
  • Wash utensils and countertops before and after preparing each food item
  • Encourage children to wash their hands prior to eating lunch at school but pack a moist towelette or hand sanitizer to be safe.

If Packing Cold Food-Keep Lunches Cold:

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in temperature danger zone (between 40 and 140° F)
  • Keep perishable food items refrigerated until time to leave home
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box
  • Use an insulated lunch bag or lunch box
  • Do not let lunch sit in a warm place such as the car or in the sun

If Packing Hot Food-Keep Lunches Hot:

  • Use an insulated container to keep food like soup and stew hot
  • Fill container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then fill with piping hot food.
  • Keep container closed tight until lunch time
  • Keep hot food at or above 140° F
  • Perishable food items will stay safe for only 2 hours at room temperature.

There is great consumer food safety information at this site http://www.fightbac.org/ or feel free to contact me, Kathleen Splane with questions ksplane@udel.edu