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Poor Food Safety Practices: Do They Put School Children At Risk?

By Matt Brignall
August 9, 2011
File under: Childrens Health, Diet, Health Concerns, Illness Prevention, Nutrition

Do you think you are making a healthy choice by preparing your child’s lunch ahead of time, and sending it with them to school? Think again, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics.

It turns out that over 90% of the lunches tested reached temperatures that would potentially foster the growth of bacteria responsible for food-borne illness. And since the temperatures were measured an hour and a half before lunch, foods were potentially sitting at these temperatures for a long time.

Do you think that cold pack you included in the lunch will prevent this issue? Wrong again. The insulated container? Nope. Neither of these were enough to prevent unsafe temperatures. Even foods that were refrigerated often spent long stretches of time at room temperature prior to being put away appropriately.

What this study doesn’t tell us is how many of these room temperature foods are causing kids to get sick. Probably, that number is quite small compared to the number of people put at risk by poor safety standards. This probably would come as small consolation, though, if your child were one of the unlucky ones.

The way we feed children in our schools has been a national embarrassment for some time. Still, it is kind of depressing news to see that by trying to improve a bad situation, parents may be trading one set of problems for another. Would it be that much to ask for schools to provide easy access to refrigerators to keep those bagged lunches healthy?

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