Get in the habit of packing safe lunches

It seems that even people who don’t have children in their homes use this time of year to get back on track or start new routines!  One of those items is reducing the number of meals eaten out.  Whether you are packing a school lunch or one for the office there are a few items of food safety to keep in mind. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates about 48 million people in the United States become ill from foodborne illnesses every year.  Don’t let your packed lunch add you to that number!  Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Start with safe food handling at home.  Be sure to wash your hands and surfaces as you pack the lunch. Insulated, soft-sided lunch boxes are the best options for keeping foods cold. For extra assurance, include a frozen ice pack or even a frozen juice box. Hot foods should be packed in an insulated container. To help maintain heat, fill the container with boiling water and let it stand five minutes. Empty the container and then put in the thoroughly heated food. Tell your child to keep the lid tightly closed until lunchtime. Be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables.  In most workplaces or schools, there is not a suitable or convenient place to wash fresh produce. Don’t try to save uneaten lunch foods for an afternoon snack, unless it is a prepackaged, nonperishable food, or uncut fresh fruit.