As families prepare for back to school, don’t forget to teach your kids the valuable lesson of food safety! One of the best ways to do this is to get them involved in preparing their school lunches.
Here are some useful tips to get them involved:
- Get your kids to help buy a lunchbox – choose one that has room for a frozen drink or freezer block and is easy to clean and dry.
- Before handling food, ensure your kids wash their hands using soap for 20 seconds and dry their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. To help them understand how long 20 seconds is, get them to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You.’
- Ask them to help wash all fruits and vegetables under running water to remove germs.
- Take your kids grocery shopping and teach them to put chilled or frozen food in a cooler bag to bring home.
- Have some fun baking together and preparing some healthy snacks like muffins or biscuits. While licking the spoon is fun, it can be risky as raw batter contains uncooked eggs which can cause food poisoning – so best to skip it.
- Teach your kids how to safely stack your fridge, keeping raw and cooked foods separated, particularly raw meats, chicken and eggs
- Avoid cross-contamination by using separate chopping boards to prepare meat, vegetables and fruit. Having a colour-coded system could work well here (e.g. red for meat, green for veggies, orange for fruit). Ask your children to lay out the boards and put the correct foods on each one.
- Once your kids have prepared their lunch, ensure they put it in the fridge until you’re ready to leave home. Don’t forget to add an ice brick just before leaving!
Your child’s lunchbox will keep a safe temperature until lunchtime at school, as long as it has a frozen drink or ice brick in it.
During hot weather you may want to opt for safer lunchbox alternatives, such as hard or processed cheese, tuna in a can, or sandwich spreads. Discard any higher risk foods such as sushi, salad, meat, poultry or eggs if not eaten within a day of you cooking or preparing them.