Study: Bag Lunches Kept at Unsafe Temperatures
August 8, 2011
by Kate Goodin
Are you getting ready to pack lunches for your kids when they go back to school? If so, this latest study reported on TODAY might make you hold the mayo on the ham and cheese: Ninety percent of 705 lunches tested by the University of Texas were stored at unsafe temperatures, which could lead to foodborne illness.
Plus: 22 Healthy Kid Snacks
The lunches came from nine daycare centers in Texas, and were tested one and half hours before the preschoolers ate them. Despite use of insulated bags and/or ice packs, most of the lunches were at room temperature by the time they were tested, and less than two percent were stored at a safe temperature. According to NBC's chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman, cold foods should stay packed at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and if you pack hot foods, they should be stored at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Any food kept at a temperature in between shouldn't be left out for more than two hours.
Plus: Nut-Free Lunch Ideas
Dr. Michael Green, a pediatrician with the division of infectious diseases at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, told TODAY that "the findings certainly raise concern […] but it doesn't tell you what this does to the relative risk of disease."
Plus: 20 Fun Bento Box Lunches
To be on the safe side, Dr. Snyderman said products like mayonnaise or cut-up fruit should be on the outs, while things like whole fruits, milk packaged in aseptic (shelf-safe) cartons and individually packaged hard cheese slices are okay to stay at room temp.
Plus: 15 On-the-Go Breakfasts