Pack a healthy lunch – part 2

Food safety needs to happen even when we take a lunch.

Now that you know what to pack in a lunch, it’s also important to know how to keep it safe for eating. That can be a challenge at times but it is not impossible. With a few simple steps, lunch can remain cold enough for consumption.

When packing a lunch for school or work it is recommended to use an insulated lunch bag or cooler. A brown bag is not a good idea just because it would not be able to keep perishable foods cool enough so they are safe to eat come mealtime. Various other containers may be used, but insulated bags are the best recommendation. Michigan State University Extension recommends putting an ice pack in a cooler when perishables are present.

When preparing any food, the first step is to wash your hands and the work area you will be using to assemble the items. Take supplies for sandwiches or leftovers out of the refrigerator as you need them. There is no need to leave items out on the counter for long periods of time. When preparing lunches that will travel, place foods in separate containers and set them back in the refrigerator to keep foods cold until you are ready to leave for school or work the next day.

Pack your lunch at the last minute before you leave the house, usingan insulated lunch box. Refrigeration is not necessary for all items in a lunch, such as chips, bread, crackers or whole fruits and vegetables. However, it is extremely important to refrigerate meats and other perishables.

To keep foods safe it is best to remember to wash your hands often. Keep foods separate to prevent cross-contamination. Keep cold foods, cold and hot foods hot.

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