Planning to pack your child's lunch this year at school? If you're like me, you pack your children's lunch because you want them to have access to the healthiest food possible. But a new study has found that packed lunches may not be the safest foods for your kids to eat.
According to the study published in the journal, Pediatrics, less than 2 percent of perishable foods that were packed in children's lunches were kept at a safe temperature until consumption. Researchers for the study tested 705 sack lunches given to 235 preschool children, aged 3 to 5, on three different days. Focusing on the meats, dairy, and vegetables in the lunches, researchers tested the temperature of the lunch containers using a temperature gun. Testing was done between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m., about an hour and a half before the children ate.
They found that more than 88 percent of the lunches were stored without refrigeration. And of the 12 percent that were refrigerated, most were kept in refrigerators that were opened frequently or otherwise unable to maintain a cool temperature.
Of the lunches that were not refrigerated, researchers found that even those that contained ice packs were at unsafe temperatures. When researchers looked at the types of foods, they found 97.4 percent of the meats, 99 percent of the dairy, and 98.5% of the vegetables were stored at unsafe temperatures.
"Our study found that most parents do not keep their preschoolers' lunches cooled enough to be safely consumed," says Fawaz D. Almansour, a PhD candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.
I think the important thing to remember is that none of the children in the study actually got sick from the food in their lunches. In fact, none of the children were prevented from eating those lunches at all. So go ahead and keep packing those lunches. Just remember to include a few extra ice packs in those lunches as well. Just in case.