Contributed by: NAPSA
(NAPSA) - Even in today's fast-food world, parents are still concerned that their kids eat healthful foods for lunch. Yet, the most nutritious brown bag is not always prepared to withstand the lunch box bug-commonly known as food poisoning.
"To help keep kid-favorite foods cold until lunchtime, include a frozen icepack in your child's lunch box," said Carolyn O'Neil, registered dietitian and national spokesperson for the ADA/Con-Agra Foods Home Food Safety program. "A frozen, individual juice box also can serve as a cold pack while creating a frosty, refreshing drink for later in the day."
On average, three to four hours pass from when kids hop on the bus in the morning to the time they dip into their lunch bags at noon. And, with limited access to refrigeration, 94 percent of children typically store their lunch either in a locker, on a shelf or in their backpacks-further increasing the potential risk of foodborne illness.
"As a general rule of thumb, foods should not sit out unrefrigerated for more than two hours; in hot weather, 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, the time is reduced to one hour. This is especially important for schools without air conditioning or those with lockers located outside," O'Neil said.
In addition to an icepack, help protect your child's lunch from heat by investing in a well-insulated bag, container or lunchbox. When using paper bags, make sure to "double-bag" it. Remember to instruct your child to throw away all perishable leftovers after lunch, saving only shelf-stable items to snack on before after-school activities.
Often, parents pack lunches that include perishable items, such as meat or cheese sandwiches (82 percent), chips and dip (69 percent) or yogurt or yogurt products (42 percent).
Consider substituting these easy and healthy, shelf-stable foods in school lunches:
And, always include a packet of moist towelettes in your child's lunch to serve as a friendly reminder to clean up before lunchtime. Teach your children to carefully wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food.
For More Information on Back-to-School Food Safety
The ADA/ConAgra Foods Home Food Safety...It's in Your Hands program educates consumers that home food safety is a serious issue and provides solutions so Americans can easily and safely handle food in their own kitchens and out-of-doors. This program complements government-sponsored food safety initiatives that speak to the leading critical food-handling violations by emphasizing the following four key messages:
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