Thursday, August 11, 2011

Does a lunchbox keep your childs food safe?

Here's a fact that you may not have come across, but according to the OzFoodNet, there are over 5.4 million cases of gastroenteritis, or food poisoning, each year in Australia, which is a fairly significant number in anyone's book. And for all of us who have suffered from "Gastro", it's definitely something that we would like to avoid at all costs: and I suspect that is doubly so for all parents of young children who wish to prevent their "littlies" from coming down with a dreaded dose of diorrhoea and vomiting. Well check your child's school lunch box, especially during the summer months, as the food in them may not be as healthy as you'd hoped!

According to a study just published in Paediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Paediatrics, over 90% of food in lunch-boxes of pre-school Toddlers attending Texas child care centres were deemed to be stored at an "unsafe" temperature: and this included those that had been provided with a ice block to keep them cool. Here are their findings:

  • 39% had no ice pack
  • 45% had one ice pack

Of the perishable food within the lunch boxes, 88% was at room temperature!
Only 1.6% of the perishable food was within a safe temperature range.

What these figures suggest, is that there is room for improvement in the way we package food for our children's school meals: and certainly, parents and schools need to look at the "cold chain of storage"of their child's school lunches, so that they can reduce the risk of developing food poisoning.

As one young mother said when hearing these results: "No more chicken sandwiches"!

Ampersands & angle brackets need to be encoded.


Amanda said...

This definitely makes sense and I'll be ice-packing the small boy's lunchbox when he gets that old, but the question arises for me - how did we survive? There were definitely no ice packs in my lunchbox during my 12 years of school and I often had chicken sandwiches! And I'm pretty sure some years my lunchbox sat in a bag outside the classroom in direct sunlight.

Dr Duncan Jefferson said...

Hi Amanda: I think that freshly prepared food always beats bought food: but the study does highlight the "risks" involved in not storing food at the correct temperature. It's an area we can probably, by simple changes, manage the food temperature chain better. When I think back on some of the things I did as a "callow youth", I'm amazed I'm still alive!!