A good lunch can go bad if it’s not packed and prepared properly.
All food has the potential to harbour dangerous bacteria that can lead to food poisoning - so follow these simple steps from the Food Safety Information Council to help keep your child’s lunchbox safe.
Keep it clean
It’s important to wash:
- your hands before preparing food and packing lunch boxes,
- the lunchbox with hot water and detergent after every use, and
- all fruit and vegetables.
It’s also a good idea to teach kids to wash their hands with soapy water before eating. You could even include disposable wipes or sanitiser so they can easily clean their hands before digging in at lunch or recess.
Cook it right
- Use a thermometer to make sure you cook food to the right temperature
- Let cooked food cool following food safety standards before popping it in the fridge.
Keep it cool
Bacteria loves the heat so it’s important to keep lunch boxes cool for school.
- Chill perishable foods like cheese, yoghurt and sandwiches before you pop them in the lunch box
- Place perishable foods between two cold sources, such as an ice-pack or frozen water or fruit juice.
- Look for insulated lunch bags to lock in the cold for longer.
- Keep lunches in the fridge if you prepare them the night before
- Encourage your child to keep their lunch in their school bag, out of direct sunlight, to help it stay cooler for longer.
Foods that don’t need refrigerating, include:
- Fruit that isn’t cut or peeled
- Dried fruits
- Muesli bars
- Rice cakes
Read nut-free lunchbox snacks and recipes for more inspiration.
Discard it if it’s cracked
Bugs and bacteria love cracked or split lunch boxes and drink bottles, so throw them out and replace them.
Stay home if you have food poisoning
You probably won't feel like it but don’t go to work or school if you or your child gets food poisoning. You should also avoid handling and preparing food for other people for 48 hours after your symptoms subside.
Speak to your doctor if food poisoning symptoms persist or are particularly bad.