Safety tips for packing your child’s school lunch

SIDNEY — The Sidney-Shelby County Health Department Nursing Division has seven safety tips for packing your child’s lunch for school.

Packing your child’s lunch for school is one way to make sure that they are eating the foods you want them to eat. It’s good to pack nutritious and waste-free lunch. It’s even better to make sure that the lunch is safe from anything that your child may be allergic to or that makes your child sick. Lunches that sit around for hours at room temperature in the locker need extra care.

Here are seven tips for packing a safer lunch:

1. Use nontoxic insulated lunch bag. It will keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

2. Buy a BPA-free reusable beverage bottle. If a reusable plastic doesn’t say BPA-Free somewhere on the packaging, don’t buy it.

3. Pack an ice pack to keep cold foods like sandwiches, yogurts and fruits (frozen juice box works good as an ice pack). By the time lunch arrives, the juice is thawed enough to drink and the food is still cool.

4. Use nontoxic insulated thermos for hot foods. Fill the thermos with hot or boiling water for several minutes before emptying it and putting in the hot soup or item.

5. The cooler or hotter a food starts out in the lunch sack, the better. A sandwich prepared the night before and stored in the refrigerator until right before it’s time to leave for school will be cooler than a sandwich made and put in a lunchbox an hour before leaving for school. It also means that hot foods should be heated up as high as the temperature as possible and put into the thermos immediately and right before leaving for school. Timing is tricky but worth the wait.

6. Throw away all perishable uneaten food that comes back home in the lunchbox. By the end of the school day, even an ice pack or an insulated thermos will lose its effectiveness.

7. Wash the lunchbox and all containers after each use with hot soapy water.

Remember, school nutrition is important for the brain and temperature control for food is important in preventing illness, health officials said. For more information, call 498-7249.

Staff report