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Tips To Pack a Safe Lunch

Do you include perishable foods in your child’s packed lunch? You might be surprised to learn the findings from a study of Texas preschoolers, published in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers found that out of 705 lunches, more than 90 percent with perishable items (even with multiple ice packs) were kept at unsafe temperatures.

Here are some tips to pack a safe lunch.

Refrigerate. Use frozen yogurt or juice boxes or an icepack to keep your child’s lunch cool on the way to school. Once there, make sure a responsible adult puts the lunch in a refrigerator or cooler if it includes perishables, says Philadelphia dietitian Althea Zanecosky.

Use safe foods. “Pack foods that have a lower chance of spoilage. Peanut butter and jelly or ham and cheese are better than turkey or roast beef. Fruit and veggies keep longer than foods with protein,” says Zanecosky. Other safe lunchbox foods include ready-to-eat cans of meats and fish; whole fruits and vegetables; as well as nuts, pickles, crackers, hard cheeses, chips and breads.

Be a detective. If your child sometimes comes home complaining about tummy trouble, see if there’s a connection to a particular food you regularly include in his lunch.

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