It is back to school time and I have seen several times on the news about Safety and brown bagging it...As we change our lifestyle so does our family. Many of the foodies pack their lunch and their kids lunch (we don't want to give them the junk in school cafeterias) so I felt the need to address the safety issues in brown bagging it...
A standard rule of food safety is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot until it is time to eat them. Temperatures between 40 degrees and 140 degrees. An insulated jug (heat it first with boiling water) placed in an insulated lunch box can keep soup, chili hot until lunch time.
Also consider pantry-safe foods packed in easy-to-open containers, like tuna that can be eaten out of a flip-top can, with or without bread.
Dried fruits and whole fruits like apples, bananas, oranges and grapes can round out the meal and can be kept safely at room temperature. But all fresh fruits, even those that will be peeled, must be washed before they are put in the lunch box.
A thorough washing is especially important for melons. If the skin is contaminated, the knife can transfer bacteria to the flesh, where they can flourish by lunch time. Ever since cantaloupe was linked to an E. coli outbreak in 2004, I’ve washed all melons, including watermelon, with a soapy sponge and hot water as soon as I get them home from the store. If they are held for days unrefrigerated, I wash them again before cutting them open.
Of course, any surface, utensil or hand that comes into contact with raw meat, poultry, fish or eggs must always be thoroughly cleaned before being used for other foods, including those same foods after they are cooked.
Even perfectly safe food can become contaminated by careless storage, preparation and consumption. Perishable foods should be refrigerated as soon as they come home from the store. If you shop with a vehicle, take along a cooler for refrigerated foods, especially in warm weather.