Lunch-box Food Safety Tips

Returning to work and school in the soaring Aussie summer heat follow these useful Lunch-box Food Safety Tips.

The Food Safety Information Council launched their back to work and school food safety tips, with a focus on the risk of potentially deadly Listeria infection.

Council Chair, Rachelle Williams suggested some safer lunchtime options for those at risk:

  • Make your own lunch. This will be safer, but be extra careful with cleanliness in your own kitchen
  • Prepare your own salads and cut up your own fruit, but don’t use bagged salads, pre-cut fruit, or whole or cut rockmelon
  • Replace soft cheeses like camembert, brie, and fetta with hard ones like cheddar
  • You can bring leftovers from last night’s dinner for lunch, but don’t use refrigerated leftovers that are more than 24 hours old as Listeria bacteria can still grow under refrigeration. Keep them cool before lunch in the workplace fridge or an insulated container with a freezer block. Leftovers and other prepared food will last longer if frozen – make sure they are reheated correctly in the work microwave or oven
  • You can also purchase hot foods at lunchtime as cooking kills Listeria.

She offered 6 simple lunchbox food safety tips that everyone should follow for work or school lunchboxes:

  1. When buying lunchboxes, choose those that have room for a frozen drink or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
  2. Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food, and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  3. Make sure lunchbox foods are always kept separated from raw foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken, eggs in their shells, and fish.
  4. Keep the lunch cool in the fridge until you are ready to leave home, then put an ice brick in it and refrigerate as soon as you get to work (or keep in a cooler with ice bricks if you work outside.) Discard any higher risk foods such as sushi, salad, meat, poultry or eggs if not eaten within a day of you cooking or preparing them.
  5. Your child’s lunchbox will keep a safe temperature until lunchtime at school as long as it has a frozen drink or ice brick in it. During hot weather you may want to consider providing safer lunchbox alternatives, such as hard or processed cheese, tuna in a can or vacuum packed, or sandwich spreads.
  6. If your leftovers need reheating they must reach 75°C in the centre of the food, so either use a meat thermometer to check, or use the automatic reheat function in the work microwave and follow any prompts to stir the food or let it stand for a time after reheating.

To read more from the Council click here

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