Healthline Blogs

Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

See all posts »

Is Your Child’s Lunch Box Safe?

A recent study may have you thinking twice about what you pack in your kid’s lunches.

TEXT SIZE: A A A

Lunch box safety.I remember when my mom used to pack my lunch for school when I was a kid. This was before ice packs were invented. I’d go to school, put my lunch box in my cubby, and not think about it until lunch time. This is still what many children probably do today.

However, a recent study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, may have you thinking twice about what you pack in your kid’s lunches. The study conducted by the University of Texas showed that more than 90 percent of the items in preschooler’s lunches were kept at unsafe temperatures. The researchers evaluated more than 700 school lunches and found that many items in the lunch boxes had temperatures between 40°F and 140° which is considered a danger zone; when food is stored at this temperature for more than 2 hours, it should not be eaten. Food not properly stored is at risk for becoming contaminated with bacteria that can cause food-borne illness.

So, what can you pack to ensure your child is safe from food-borne illnesses? Recently fellow registered dietitian Ellie Krieger was featured on the TODAY show with suggestions for safe school lunches which I 100 percent agree with!

Foods that Ellie recommended as safe, even if your child’s lunch box isn’t kept cold, include:

  • whole fruits (apples, bananas, oranges, peaches)
  • whole vegetables (carrots, sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, celery)
  • dried fruits and vegetables (dried tart cherries, raisins)
  • mixed nuts (No Peanuts! Check with your child’s school about their nut allergy policy).
  • aseptic milks (Horizon, Organic Valley, Silk Soy Milk). Safe at room temperature, cool for taste.
  • dry cereal
  • applesauce
  • hard cheese (Cheddar, Colby, Swiss). If they are prepackaged and individually wrapped they will be safe at room temperature.
  • granola bars
  • peanut butter sandwich (Check with your child’s school about their nut allergy policy).

Luckily, now I am able to put my own lunch in a refrigerator at work. Schools today do not have this luxury so children’s school lunches are often left out at room temperature for over 2 hours where harmful bacteria can grow. Aim for packing some of the above items in your children’s school lunches every day so you can go through your day knowing your child has a safe and healthy lunch!

  • 1

Tags: Healthy Eating

Was this article helpful? Yes No

More Articles from Tara

  • Let's Talk About Chili

    By: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
    Nov 09, 2012

    I’m sure we may all have a special memory that involves chili. This warm dish often signifies fall and cool weather; it warms you up from the inside out. Maybe you had chili while sitting snuggling by the fire, a chili cheese dog right after a ...

    Read more »

  • A Tribute to Oatmeal

    By: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
    Nov 02, 2012

    This past Monday marked National Oatmeal day, and what’s a better way to celebrate than a warm bowl of oats in the morning? Growing up I’d have instant oatmeal in the car ride to school. My mom wasn’t a huge fan of oatmeal, or so she thought, a...

    Read more »

  • Bites for a Healthy Pregnancy

    By: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
    Oct 31, 2012

    Pregnancy is a wonderful experience, but it doesn’t come without its challenges, especially if it’s your first. I remember hearing all sorts of pregnancy advice and old wives tales during my pregnancy from well meaning family and friends, but ...

    Read more »

  • Family Dinner Time

    By: Tara Gidus, MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N
    Oct 29, 2012

    Growing up, my family always sat down to dinner to eat together. It was a time to catch up on our days and discuss anything that was going on at school or in after school activities. I definitely feel like this made our family closer and we wer...

    Read more »

Advertisement

About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

Recent Blog Posts

Advertisement
Advertisement