Safety Concerns with School Lunches?

I hope all the students and school staff in the Lakeland area had a great first day of school this week!

You may not think about food safety with all the other things happening with going back to school, but it’s just as important a consideration. Here are some tips to keep your kids lunches not only healthy, but safe:

• Use this rule of thumb: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep foods out of the danger zone, between 4°C (40°F) and 60°C (140°F) to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

• Before and after handling food, wash your hands with hot soapy water, as well as all utensils, dishes and work surfaces.

• Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Throw away any cooked food left out at room temperature for more than two hours. You cannot tell if food is contaminated by its look, smell or taste. When in doubt, throw it out!

• Use leftovers within 2 to 3 days, or freeze them for later use. Date leftovers to ensure they are not stored too long.

• Thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator or in the microwave.

• Reheat leftovers to a safe internal temperature of 74ºC (165ºF). Use a food thermometer to check the temperature.

• Use a thermos to store hot foods if there is no access to a microwave at school. Put boiling water in the thermos and wait five minutes. Place reheated food in the thermos and seal until lunch.

• Discard uneaten leftovers after they have been reheated. (This also goes for any leftovers from lunchboxes that have been sitting in a backpack all day.)

• Use ice packs to keep cold foods cold. You can also freeze juice boxes and yogurt tubes, which should thaw before lunch.

• All vegetables and fruit should be washed before eating. They should never be eaten without being washed. Wash produce under running water, using a scrub brush when needed. Even wash the outside of those vegetables and fruit in which you won’t be eating the skin or rind, as some bacteria can be spread when the produce is cut or peeled.

For more information on food safety, visit Health Canada at:

If you have any nutrition topics you would like me to write about or have a question you would like answered, email me at [email protected]. I would really like to hear from you!