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'Pediatrics' Study: Kids' Lunchboxes Too Warm For Safety

I'll be rummaging through the freezer for those icepacks this morning.

Reuter Health reports here:

(Reuters Health) - If you're packing lunch for your kid, chances are it will end up at unsafe temperatures before it's eaten.

That's according to a Texas study that tested more than 700 preschoolers' lunch packs and found less than two percent of the meats, vegetables and dairy products were in the safe temperature zone.

"It was a shock when we discovered that more than 90 percent of the perishable items in these packed lunches were kept at unsafe temperatures," said Fawaz Almansour, a doctoral student at the University of Texas in Austin.

His study, released on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, is the first to check how the food that kids' bring to school is doing about an hour and a half before lunchtime.

I don't see a link to the full study on the Pediatrics Website, but here's their press release:

PRESCHOOLERS’ SACK LUNCHES REACH UNSAFE TEMPERATURES

Sack lunches packed by parents can be an inexpensive alternative to school-prepared lunches, but they can also make kids sick if not kept at a safe temperature. Even lunches that include ice packs can reach unsafe temperatures. In the study, “Temperature of Foods Sent by Parents of Preschool-aged Children,” published in the September 2011 issue of Pediatrics (published online Aug. 8), the sack lunches of more than 700 preschoolers at nine Texas child care centers were measured with noncontact temperature guns 1.5 hours before the food was served. Researchers found that 39 percent of the 705 lunches had no ice packs, 45.1 percent had at least one ice pack, and 88.2 percent of lunches were at room temperature. Only 1.6 percent of lunches with perishable items were found to be in a safe temperature zone, while over 90 percent (even with multiple ice packs) were kept at unsafe temperatures. Study authors suggest that parents and the public need to be educated on safe food packing practices in order to prevent bacteria from growing and potentially causing illness.

This program aired on August 8, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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