Packed school lunches may lead to health problems

Family

POSTED: Monday, August 8, 2011 - 6:08pm

UPDATED: Monday, August 8, 2011 - 6:08pm

A new study finds food that sits in a lunch boxes all morning can get warm enough to encourage bacteria growth, even when packed with multiple ice packs.

Dr. Laura Jeffers is a pediatric dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic. She says the bacteria growth could be enough to make kids sick.

"Parents are thinking that based on packing the lunches with ice pack is helping, but actually it's melting in a couple of hours," said Jeffers. "They're going to be ingesting food that bacteria has been growing on, so they could become ill, they could you know have vomiting or diarrhea."

Researchers measured the temperatures of more than 700 preschoolers' sack lunches about an hour and a half before lunch was served. Over 90% of the lunches with perishable food were found to be at an unsafe temperature.

Bacteria can grow when perishable food reaches temperatures over 40 degrees, but the average temperature for such foods had climbed to more than 60 degrees by lunchtime.

Dr. Jeffers suggests avoiding anything with mayo, and says keeping things cold can keep kids safe.

In nearly 40-percent of the lunches studied, parents had not packed any ice packs at all.
 

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