Back to School Food Safety Tips


Young boy holding packed lunch in living room smiling

You must make a concerted effort to make sure your kid’s school lunches are kept out of the temperature danger zone.

Everyday we put our own and families health at risk without even thinking of the consequences involved, it is estimated there are 5.4 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. It is so easy to take simple and quick steps to ensure the safety of yourself and more importantly your family on a daily basis.

Perishable food becomes unsafe to eat if the total time in the temperature danger zone (5° C – 60° C) is greater than 4 hours, to put this in perspective; this is about the time between leaving home and lunchtime!

Those packing lunches for children need to understand how vulnerable young ones can be and that food poisoning can have horrific long-term consequences including reactive arthritis.

Below are some precautions you can take to ensure your kid’s lunches stay risk free:

  • Ensure you prepare food with well-washed hands and utensils
  • Educate your kids to wash their hands before eating lunch.
  • Lunch boxes and reusable drink bottles must be thoroughly washed and dried daily.
  • If cracked, split or crazed, replace, as bugs will grow in any cracks.
  • Avoid risky foods such as soft cheeses, sprouts, pate, etc.
  • Children’s lunchboxes kept inside the school bag will keep cooler longer especially if the bag is kept away from heat sources such as direct sunlight.
  • Pack frozen or chilled drinks in with food items to help keep the temperature down.

Food poisoning results, on average, in 120 deaths, 1.2 million visits to doctors, 300,000 prescriptions for antibiotics, and 2.1 million days of lost work each year. The estimated annual cost of food poisoning in Australia is $1.25 billion.

If your child has food poisoning don’t let them go to school, and ensure they avoid handling food for others until 48 hours after symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea has stopped.

If your child’s food poisoning symptoms persist, please consult your doctor. 

For further information:

Food Safety Information Council


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