Do you pack your child’s lunch for preschool? Know this: A recent study found that 9 out of 10 kids’ lunches get so warm before it’s time to eat, that bacteria starts growing, raising the risk for food poisoning. And that’s true even if you packed a frozen water bottle, or an ice pack in their lunch. 

The truth is: Proper refrigeration – which is 39 degrees or lower - keeps bacteria in suspended animation. But when food’s left on the counter - or in a fridge that’s not set low enough – bacteria production moves into overdrive. And researchers at the University of Texas found that 99% of lunches at preschools are stored at improper temperatures. Even lunches kept in the daycare fridge often reached unsafe temperatures. Either because the staff didn’t put the lunches in the fridge immediately, or because the refrigerators weren’t cold enough. 

So, what’s a worried parent to do? 

  • Use two ice packs when you pack your child’s lunch so things stay colder, longer.

  • Also, stick mostly with foods that don’t have to be refrigerated, like whole fruit, veggies, nuts, and PB&J sandwiches. 

  • And avoid making your kid’s lunches with meats and mayonnaise, which are often the culprits in food-borne illnesses.