Unsafe School Lunches

Posted on August 9, 2011 by

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MSNBC reported yesterday that 9 out of 10 preschool lunches are served at unsafe temperatures.  Experts in the article stated that it’s hard to determine if this will lead to more foodborne illness cases. 

According to the study and report Ninety percent of the 705-preschooler sack lunches tested by University of Texas scientists had risen to temperatures considered too high to prevent the growth of bacteria, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Unsafe, as the researchers defined it, was anything that sat for more than two hours between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But that doesn’t mean kids are actually getting sick.

The results simply show that how parents pack their kids’ lunches could inadvertently lead to foodborne illness, Fawaz Almansour and his colleagues concluded.

The researchers tested lunch temperatures at nine Texas daycare centers an hour and a half before the food was consumed by the preschoolers. Of the 705 lunches tested, 39 percent had no ice packs and 45 percent had a least one. The majority of the lunches — 82 percent — were at room temperature by the time they were tested.

Less than 2 percent of the perishable items tested were in the “safe” range, Almansour and his colleagues reported.

US Food Safety suggests packing lunches that are less likely to harbor bacteria.  Peanut butter and nut butter substitutes like soy butter are good choices along with fresh fruits and veggies, crackers.  Dairy items like some cheeses and milk should be kept cold or avoided altogether.