For many parents, it's a labor of love. Packing just the right lunch for kids to eat at school, but that lunch could be what sends them home later with a stomach ache. A new study in the journal "Pediatrics" finds food that sits in a lunch box all morning can get warm enough to encourage bacteria growth, even when packed with an ice pack.
Dr. Laura Jeffers said, "Parents are thinking that based on packing the lunches with ice pack is helping, but actually it's melting in a couple of hours." "They're going to be ingesting food that bacteria has been growing on, so they could become ill, they could you know have vomiting or diarrhea."
If you send a sack lunch, the risk is even greater. The study looked at more than 700 preschoolers taking a sack lunch to school, and found that 90 minutes before lunch, 90 percent of the lunches with perishable food were already at unsafe temperatures.
Researchers measured the temperatures in the sack lunches of more than 700 preschoolers about an hour and a half before lunch was served. Over 90-percent of the lunches with perishable food were found to be at an unsafe temperature. Bacteria can grow when perishable food reaches temperatures over 40 degrees, but the average temperature for such foods had climbed to more than 60 degrees by lunchtime.
Dr. Jeffers suggests avoiding anything with mayo, also- be sure to put an ice pack in the lunch box. It's also a great idea to freeze the drinks, so as it thaws, it will keep things cold.
In nearly 40-percent of the lunches studied, parents had not packed any ice packs at all. @
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