Your sack lunch could make you sick

By: Allison Kropff Email
By: Allison Kropff Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Before you pack tomorrow's lunch, listen to this - the food you're packing, even with an ice pack, may reach unsafe temperatures.

That's the results of a study published in the journal of pediatrics Monday. It focuses on pre-schoolers and how 90% of lunches tested, had risen to temperatures that could cause food poisoning.

But any sack lunch is vulnerable. Here's some tips to keep your food safe.

Even if you pack it on ice, the food in your child's lunch box could reach dangerous temperatures that could make them sick.

"The issue is, when they get out of that range, that cold range, it's usually a 2 hour window before bacteria start to grow," says Michelle Moyers a Health Planner with the Knox County Health Department.

She says the study from the journal Pediatrics makes an important statement about food safety.

"Perishable foods, like meats, some cheeses, milks, need to be kept at 40 degrees, need to be kept cold."

Moyers says to use an insulated lunch box like this one. If you'll be outside, she says choose food that won't spoil.

"Like peanut butter and jelly is a good healthy lunch and it doesn't need refrigeration. Whole fruits and also if you're going to have to keep it outside, lots of ice or ice packs."

It's a lesson these guys learned early this summer.

"Anything with mayonnaise, it'll spoil. It'll spoil the meat on the sandwich, even if it is in the cooler it'll still not taste right when you try to eat it," says Stephen Vittatoe.

On a hot job, these roofers pack light and pack safely.

"Peanut butter sandwiches, water Powerade, chips. No bologna or nothing, it spoils," says Jack Smallwood.

They keep water coolers and lunch boxes in the shade. And even then, they keep a gage on the temperature.

"When I do, I'll check it, I'll keep it under the truck, to give it more shade, or throw some more ice on it," says Smallwood.

Allowing your sack lunch to get over 40 degrees could lead to a food borne illness. And for a child, that can be dangerous.

Which is why Moyers says use this rule of thumb: "If you can't keep it at a cold temperature, if in doubt, throw it out."


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