A new paper has shown how frequently bagged lunches of preschool-aged children are kept at unsafe temperatures. Researchers in Texas measured how cool individual packed lunch items were at nine private child-care centers. A food’s temperature was judged as unacceptable if it fell between the range of 4° and 60° Celsius.
More than 90 percent of meals did arrive in thermally insulated plastic containers. But about 40% of lunches containing perishable foods arrived without ice packs. Only about 12 percent of the lunches were placed in refrigerators.
Even with multiple ice packs, more than 90% of lunch items were at unsafe temperatures the scientists report in the September Pediatrics. Of the 61 perishables in ice packs, only five foods were still at a germ-growth-inhibiting temperature 90 minutes before lunch time.
It’s important to note that the researchers reported no children as having developed food poisoning on the day their temperature checks were made.
Although the study focused on preschoolers since children under four develop more than four times as many food borne infections as do adults, anyone can be poisoned by improperly stored foods, the researchers say.
Source: F.D. Almansour, et al. Temperature of foods sent by parents of preschool-aged children. Pediatrics, Vol. 128, September 2011, p. e1. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2885
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