School holidays are wrapping up, but there's still plenty of hot weather ahead, so New Zealand Food Safety is sharing some tips to keep your tamariki's packed lunches safe to eat this summer.
"When lunchboxes get hot, the warm environment not only makes the food unpleasant to eat but also gives germs the opportunity to multiply faster on the food inside, and therefore to cause foodborne illness when eaten," says New Zealand Food Safety deputy director-general Vincent Arbuckle.
"Children can do their part by keeping their lunchboxes out of the sun and heat when at school, but the parents and caregivers preparing those lunches need to consider how to keep food cool until it's eaten.
"No one wants to start the year off with a sick day."
So here are some tips to keep your children's lunchboxes safe:
- Have clean hands and utensils when making packed lunches.
- Freeze water bottles overnight and pop them in the lunchbox to keep food chilled – or include a mini freezer pack.
- Chill packed lunches in the fridge overnight, but if you can't get to it the night before, keep perishable foods (like cold meats or egg sandwiches) safe by packing them between cold items (like yoghurt).
- Unless your children have access to a microwave at school, don't include leftovers that need reheating before being eaten.
- Stick coloured stars or stickers on foods that might spoil to let kids know they should be eaten first.
- Throw away perishable leftovers that are brought back home.
- Wash lunchboxes each day with hot soapy water and dry carefully.