Across the UK every day, millions of parents are preparing packed lunches for their kids to take to school, nursery or educational trips and excursions. But how many of us have thought about food safety when it comes to the prolonged storage of perishable food items?
Packed lunches are often made early in the morning and can be stored in a school bag or a warm classroom for hours before being consumed. During that time, fresh food can easily deteriorate and rapidly become a breeding ground for foodborne diseases.
Without being refrigerated, bacteria can quickly multiply and could cause ill health to your child. Chilled food and dairy items therefore need to be stored properly and safely.
The best advice is to use an insulated lunch box or bag which helps to maintain food at a safe temperature until lunchtime. Pop an ice pack in the box to keep food cold and safe; and place perishable food next to the pack to ensure it stays chilled for longer. Keep food refrigerated until it needs to be placed in the lunch box.
Basic food hygiene is a necessity. Always wash hands before preparing sandwiches and use disposable sandwich packs for storage. Keep surfaces clean to avoid cross contamination.
Only prepare enough food required for your child’s lunch to prevent waste. Choose healthy options such as fruit or vegetable sticks. Leftover perishable food items must be thrown away at the end of day – never save an uneaten sandwich for the next day.
It is essential to thoroughly clean lunch boxes and food containers daily – use warm soapy water and a non-tainting anti-bacterial spray to eliminate bacteria such as listeria, salmonella and E. coli.
Drinking bottles can also easily become contaminated and need to be washed meticulously, especially lids where germs can lurk! If you are providing bottles of water, then it is advisable to drink once and then recycle, rather than refilling plastic bottles time and time again! Bacteria can soon accumulate and chemicals from the plastic can be released during frequent re-use.
Finally, you must encourage your children to wash their hands before eating lunch; and always after using the toilet! You could also place serviettes or anti-bacterial wipes into their lunch boxes to use before or after eating. Effective personal hygiene is particularly important for good health and is vital for the wellbeing of you and your family.
The information contained in this article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health & safety nor fire safety advice.
“Calibri W01 Light”;color:#5F5F5D”>Food Alert take no responsibility if the information in the article is used to form part of a safety management system or used to form part of any legal or regulatory compliance for your business. For official guidance and to engage with Food Alert services please do call our team on 020 7244 1900 or email