Bacteria infested school lunches?

August 8, 2011 2:21:17 PM PDT
Those school lunches, lovingly packed by parents in the morning, could be carrying a very unappetizing surprise - dangerous bacteria. Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin tested the packed lunches of about 700 preschool children.

Almost all the perishable food items were considered unsafe to eat.

"Most of the food, when it was served to the children, was at room temperature or above the recommended safe temperature," Elizabeth Pash, R.D. of Cleveland Clinic said.

Forty-five percent of lunches had at least one ice pack in them. Even so, over ninety per cent of the lunches were found to be at unsafe high temperatures, in which bacteria can thrive.

The study also found that even when a refrigerator was available, the lunch was often left out for on average 2 hours before being placed inside.

So what's the solution?

Until we have better insulated lunch bags, the researchers suggest multiple ice packs and immediate refrigeration when possible.