Safety Tips for Bagged Lunches

We look forward to eating lunch. It’s a time to catch up with coworkers or friends over a good meal. Whether you have thirty minutes or an hour, follow some safety precautions so that the food you eat won’t come back to haunt you. The first safety issue with food concerns keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Now, with hot foods, they won’t stay hot for several hours but an insulated container or Thermos allows for lukewarm or room temperature foods. Even if the food needs to be reheated before eating, it should be room temperature or cool when packed. Letting food cool down before refrigerating it avoids the excess condensation inside the container. That extra water that builds up inside can make food soggy. On top of that, it doesn’t look good when the container is opened and extra water has collected on the food. And, seriously who wants to eat soggy bread? For frozen meals from the store, there’s no need to thaw them out before packing your lunch bag. By the time you get around to eating it, the meal will probably not be frozen anymore. Using a cold pack in the bag also keeps the temperature constant so the meal won’t completely thaw before it’s time to dig in. These meals have preservatives so they are not as much of a worry as homemade dishes brought for lunch. Anything with mayonnaise or egg holds up better with refrigeration. A lunch bag left out in the sun or not refrigerated will become rancid over time. That doesn’t mean your lunch will be that way if you don’t have an ice pack, but you never know what might happen. Taking leftovers for lunch that are a few days old combined with the lack of refrigeration can cause serious problems. Any food that is not eaten at lunch needs to be refrigerated again if you plan on eating more of it. You should also remove a portion of the meal to a plate or other container when you don’t intend to eat it all. Enzymes in saliva break down food and can cause bacteria to spread more rapidly. A half eaten sandwich or plate of meatloaf won’t be palatable three hours after lunch unless the portion was divided before you took the first bite. One final thing - empty the lunch bag when you get home. Kids are great for leaving leftover food in a lunch bag on the top of the refrigerator. Yuck! Clean the bag out in case something spilled in the bottom or there are some food pieces. By following these tips you and your kids can enjoy eating lunch without getting sick.


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