With healthier school lunch guidelines on the way, some parents might prefer to let their child buy lunch, especially with the recent findings that “sack” lunches can pose serious health threats for children.
According to ScienceNews.org, a recent study from the University of Texas, Austin found that bag lunches are likely to harbor bacteria that causes food borne illness. Researchers tested the temperature of 235 packed bag lunches with an electronic temperature gun to determine the safety of the food inside.
According to Science News, roughly 40 percent of lunches containing perishable foods arrived without ice packs and more than 90 percent of meals were packaged in thermally insulated plastic containers. Of the 618 perishable foods packed in lunch bags with a single ice pack, only 14 food items were deemed to be at an acceptable temperature, according to the report.
“Even with multiple ice packs, the majority of lunch items (greater than 90 percent) were at unsafe temperatures,” the scientists reported in the September Pediatrics.
For parents who believe that school lunches don’t have to be junk but don’t trust the reliability of ice packs or insulated bags, there are plenty of items you can tuck inside your child’s lunch bag that can be healthy and satisfying – without worrying that you’ll make them sick.
Almond Butter on Whole Grain Bread: Almond butter has less fat and more protein than peanut butter and whole grain bread contains fiber that will keep your son or daughter sated throughout the day.
Fresh Fruit: Instead of slicing up fruit for a fresh fruit salad that will grow soggy and warm by lunch time, pack whole fruit in your child’s lunch box. Apples, bananas and oranges are available year round at grocery stores and most farmer’s markets.
Whole Grain Crackers with Nut Butter: Instead of cheese and crackers, send your son or daughter to school with an individually packaged portion of Justin’s Nut Butter, which has as few as 80 calories per serving.
Black Bean “Quesadilla:” Rinse, then mash a can of black beans with a teaspoon each of cumin, oregano and lemon or lime juice. Add salt to taste and spread between two warm tortillas for a mock quesadilla that won’t spoil before noon.
All-Natural, Organic Applesauce: For a shelf-stable fruit serving, look for a brand of applesauce that has no added sugar or artificial flavorings.