Dangers of the Packed Lunch

Whether you’re packing a lunch for your kids or packing a lunch for the office new statistics are revealing there are hidden dangers you should be aware of.

According to the most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
  • One in six Americans will have food poisoning this year
  • 128,000 will be hospitalized as a result
  • 3,000 people will die as a result
The culprit? The 31 organisms that are known causes of 9.4 million food borne illnesses (38.4 million people get sick from organisms still unknown.)

What can you do to protect yourself (and your kids)?

  • Use insulated lunch boxes–keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot until time to eat (place a thin freezer pack in the lunch box if you have cold food).
  • Packed lunches that sit in the classroom or under your desk have been known to have temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees, according to the New York Times.
  • Use an insulated jug (heat first with boiling water) for soup or kid faves like mac n’ cheese.
Still worried about illness? The best foods for packed lunches include:
  • peanut butter/almond butter sandwiches
  • sliced cheese
  • tuna in a flip-top can
  • boxed milk that is sold unrefrigerated (horizon organics makes a great one)
  • freeze sandwiches like eggs salad or hummus the night before and place in the lunch (they’ll thaw out by lunch time)
  • Wash all fruit – even those with a disposable outside. For example, melons especially need a proper washing. If the skin is contaminated, the knife can transfer bacteria to the flesh of the fruit and can grow rapidly before lunch time. In 2004, cantaloupe was linked to an E.coli outbreak. Experts advice washing all melons, including watermelon with a soapy sponge and hot water as soon as you get it home from the store.
  • Kids and adults should wash before lunch — if this isn’t possible put a pocket-size hand sanitizer in the lunch box.

 

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