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Back to School Food Safety Tips


Americans of all ages carry lunches to school or work. You can ensure a safe lunch -- if you handle it properly. Keep these tips in mind when packing lunches:

•When preparing the lunches, use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry to avoid cross-contamination.

•After lunchtime, discard all unused food packaging. Do not reuse packaging because it could contain germs and spread foodborne illness.

•Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth and keeps food safe. Remember not to leave foods out in the “danger zone” (in temperatures between 40 and 140. F.)

•Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box with perishable food in an insulated lunch bag or lunch box.

•Use an insulated soft-sided bag if possible. It’s best for keeping food cold.

•Cook frozen convenience items according to package instructions for optimum food safety.

•Remember: Perishable food transported without an ice source will stay safe only 2 hours (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).

September is National Food Safety Month. For more information on many food safety topics, visit: