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Lunch Box Safety

Every parent wants to send his or her kid off to school with a delicious lunch, knowing they have followed lunch box safety rules to ensure that the food will be safe when lunchtime rolls around. Anything you would refrigerate at home, like sandwiches made with lunchmeat, needs to be kept cold with an icepack or frozen juice box. Hot food, like soup, needs to be kept hot, so a non-breakable thermal container is key.

Lunch box safety rules apply to food served for lunch at home as well as on the go. Salads and snacks should be kept at the proper temperature no matter where you’ll be eating them. Remember that if it came out of the fridge, it needs to be kept cold.

Keeping food at the right temperature isn’t the only lunch box safety principle to follow: Keeping food safe for little ones also includes being sure there are no choking hazards in their lunch box. We’ve got more food safety tips for kids in our Healthy Living section.

In addition to being safe, lunch can be fun. Think about adding a treat: Peanut butter isn’t just for sandwiches, and cookie balls and cupcakes always bring a smile.

Lunch Box Safety Tips

  • Keep food preparation areas in the kitchen clean. Wash countertops, cutting boards, utensils and your hands in hot, soapy water. And don't let the family pet jump up on kitchen counters.
  • After preparing lunches, remember to immediately return unused portions of perishable foods, like cheeses, deli meats and mayonnaise, to the refrigerator. Don't let them sit out on the counter.
  • Make sure that cold foods are cold before packing them in a lunch box. If possible, prepare the lunch the night before and store it in the refrigerator. (This also takes the edge off the mad morning rush!)
  • Insulated lunch bags or boxes are the best way to keep food at a safe temperature until noon. Nestle a frozen juice pouch or ice pack inside and sandwiches will stay extra cool.
  • At school, instruct the kids to store their lunch box out of direct sunlight and away from radiators or other heaters if possible.
  • Sandwiches made with refrigerated items such as luncheon meats, cheese and tuna salad should be carried in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack. That way they should be safe to eat after 2 to 3 hours un refrigerated.
  • Tote Oscar Mayer Lunchables Brand Lunch Combinations in an insulated lunch bag with an ice pack.
  • Keep hot foods, like soups, stews or chilies, hot. In the morning, bring the food to a boil and then immediately pour into a hot, sterile vacuum bottle. (Sterilize the vacuum bottle with boiling water.)
  • Lunch foods that can be eaten at room temperature include:
    • Peanut butter
    • Jams and jellies
    • Breads, crackers, cereals
    • Clean fruits and vegetables
    • Dried meats, such as beef jerky
    • Baked products, such as cookies and cakes
    • Canned meat or poultry products that are eaten immediately after opening
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Lunch Box Safety
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