Packed Lunches Could Be Swarming With Bacteria
POSTED: Friday, August 26, 2011 - 3:14pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 26, 2011 - 9:46pm
EL PASO- It's a morning routine for families all over the country, packing school lunches for the kids. But, that an innocent looking lunchbox could be hiding a dirty little secret?
Pediatricians say with children's lunches sitting out for hours before lunch time. It is critical to keep food at the correct temperature to prevent your child from getting sick. With temperatures in the upper-90's daily, El Paso pediatrician Gilberto Gomez says parents need to be cautious about their kids’ lunches.
"Food could spoil at any time especially here in El Paso with the heat," says Dr. Gomez.
Dr. Gomez says a lot of parents are unaware of the danger. "Unless the lunch box already comes with an ice pack already in there, parents aren't going to do that, being a parent myself, I know it's a rush getting the kids off to school in the morning.”
A new study in the Journal Pediatrics says a team of Texas researchers found only 60 percent of parents put an ice-pack in their children’s lunch boxes.
"Ideally parents should pack school lunches in containers that either keep the food warm or keep it cold,” says Gomez.
Dr. Gomez says there are things schools could do to help lunches stay at healthy temperatures, but they aren't being done.
"For the kids who pack or bring a lunch from home, i don't think refrigerators are provided or microwaves are provided."
However Gomez doesn't want to discourage parents from packing their children's lunches because despite the risk, a lunch from home can have an advantage.
"Safer as far as foodborne illness, bacteria from food poisoning- yes. Safer as in healthier-probably not," says Dr. Gomez.
Dr. Gomez also says another benefit of packing your child's lunch is you can control exactly what they eat and how much.