Back to School Food Safety

Aug 07, 2017

BACK TO SCHOOLIt’s that time of year again, back to school! Whether it is the start of school, or off to work, many people will be packing up a lunch. It is important to keep that food safe, during the commute or while it sits, waiting for lunchtime. The “Danger Zone” is between 40°F and 140°F, which is when many bacteria can multiply rapidly in the range of moderate temperatures. For those perishable foods, they need to stay cold or stay hot, not to become room temperature.  Food should not be left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours; and only 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

Tips for Packing Lunches

To ensure the sack lunches remain cold, two cold sources should be packed. This can be from a gel pack, or a frozen juice or water, and then they can be enjoyed as a nice cold beverage later as well! Those cold packs should be on top and bottom of the perishable foods to keep them cold. Food items like lunch meats, cheese, yogurt and eggs are example of ones to be cautious of to keep cold.

If packing lunch the night before, leave the bag or box in the fridge with the lid open, so the cold air can get the entire bag chilled overnight.

Hot Lunches

An insulated container can be used to keep foods such as soup or chili hot longer. Then fill the container with boiling water and let sit for a few minutes then empty to heat, and then put in the hot food.

Reheating Leftovers

When microwaving, cover the food to hold moisture, and create a safe, even heating. Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F before consuming.

Use most cooked leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

General Food Safety Reminders

  • Clean—Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate—Don't cross-contaminate.
  • Cook—Cook to proper temperatures, checking with a food thermometer.
  • Chill—Refrigerate promptly.

Wash hands before packing lunch, as well as before and after eating. Wash items including knives, utensils, dishes, and countertops after preparing each item before moving to the next. Use clean, different cutting boards for foods that will not be cooked, such as bread, or produce separated from meat and poultry.


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