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Back to school with safe lunches

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Kids around the state are back in school and the Oregon Department of Agriculture wants to make sure the lunch you send with your child each day is safe as well as satisfying:

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Simply put, the lunch you send with your child needs to be packed with care and consideration. Kids are more susceptible to food borne illnesses than most adults:

KENDRICK:  “Well, if you are going to pack something that needs to be refrigerated, it’s a good idea to put a gel pack or a frozen juice box or something in the lunch to keep that cold lunch cold until your child eats at midday.”  :12

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Oregon Department of Agriculture food safety specialist Susan Kendrick says proper temperatures are very important. So is the lunch preparation– using clean surfaces and clean hands in putting the food together. Choosing safe foods can help:

KENDRICK:  “If you want to go with non-perishable foods, then you don’t have to worry about the refrigeration. So perhaps a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or crackers or dried fruit or fruit cups or something along those lines.”  :15

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Two other important tips– make sure your child eats the lunch when they are supposed to as leftovers are probably not a good idea. Also, tell them to wash their hands properly before eating. That’s a good policy at school and at home. In Salem, I’m Bruce Pokarney.

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KENDRICK says it’s not just what types of food are being packed into the school lunch that is important, but how it is being prepared:

“When you are in the home kitchen packing, you want to be sure as they preparer that you wash your hands thoroughly so you don’t contaminate the food. Avoid cross-contamination. Use separate surfaces for raw foods like meats versus ready-to-eat foods.”  :14

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KENDRICK says kids should stick to their own lunch:

“Good idea not to swap lunches. Part of the reason for that is allergies. You don’t know what your neighbor is allergic to. And be sure you eat your lunch at lunchtime and don’t save it for later in the day, particularly if it is that perishable food.”  :16

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