Like all parents, your child’s safety is of the utmost concern. The last thing you want to worry about is what might be lurking in their lunchbox, especially under your watch. Safety starts at home. Learn how to prevent your child’s lunch box from becoming a hazard zone, using these tips on lunchbox safety.
1. Use an Actual Lunch Bag
Don’t use a bag not meant to be a lunch pack, as these may not be insulated and will not keep temperatures low. While most parents and kids gravitate towards the prettiest bags, find one that actually works the best.
2. Find an Insulated Bag
Pack your child’s lunch in an insulated lunchbox, as this will keep the ice from melting too quickly. Tin lunch boxes only provide cooling only for a short time so grab an insulated container that can keep food hot until it’s time for lunch.
3. Toss in a Cold Pack
Include at least one cold pack in your bag, even if you’re packing a frozen liquid or snack. And toss old ones. Cold packs, both hard and soft, can leak hazardous chemical solvents.
4. Throw Out Old Lunch boxes
Ripped or torn lunch boxes should also be discarded immediately, as these may no longer shield food from bacteria or keep items sufficiently cold.
5. Test the Temperature
Foods should remain at a temperature of 40 degrees or below. Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of your lunch box to be on the safe side.
6. Be Wary of High Protein Foods
High protein foods are bacteria magnets. These include meat, chicken, eggs, fish and yogurt. If you include these in your child’s lunch box, make sure they are eaten within two hours if the temperature outside is below 90 degrees and one hour if the temperature outside is above that mark.
7. Befriend Mayo
Mayonnaise is not the culprit you think it is. The acid in mayonnaise actually helps to protect food from bacteria, but this should not a substitute for an ice pack.
8. Pack a Small Bag
Opt for a smaller lunch box as these will keep colder longer. If your lunch box is large, fill it with more than one ice pack.
9. Keep it Clean
Wash your lunch box after every use with hot, soapy water and let it dry thoroughly. It’s a good idea to air out lunch boxes in the open air if they take on a slight smell. If the smell doesn’t fade, toss the lunch box immediately.
While it’s impossible to protect children from every dangerous situation they encounter, at least keeping their lunch boxes clean, bacteria-free and safe is within the control of every caregiver.