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New research: Bacteria can grow on kids' sack lunches

By Nadine Wimmer | Posted - Aug. 8, 2011 at 9:59 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY -- Add this to your safety radar as kids head back to school: The American Academy of Pediatrics released a study today that found many sack lunches may put kids at risk of getting sick.

Many moms pack sack lunches for their children to get a healthy meal at school. But many don't think about what else is in that sack by the end of the day.

When that food sits in a lunch box all morning instead of a fridge, it can get warm enough to encourage bacteria growth.


Pack non-perishable foods, like fruits, veggies, chips, crackers and lots of PB&J. Make your lunch sack a mayo-free zone.

The discovery happened when teams with the American Academy of Pediatrics "took the temperature" of the food in more than 700 preschoolers' sack lunches an hour and a half before lunch was to be served. Unsafe temperatures were recorded in over 90 percent of the lunches with perishable foods, including some with multiple ice packs.

Those results were a bit jarring for some, but not all, of the Utah moms we talked to.

"I'm surprised by it, personally. I thought, you know, sack lunches would be healthier, better," said Aislinn Roquiro, a mom in West Jordan.

"You wouldn't think it would go bad in just a couple of hours, so it's definitely surprising," Rachel Lebo, also of West Jordan, told KSL.

Anna Lewis or Erda said that while she generally takes precautions when packing her kids' lunches, the news did give her concern. "I don't usually send a meat sandwich unless it's gonna be kept cold. We send a lot of peanut butter or things like that, but I do think about it because, yeah, it's gonna sit in the classroom for a few hours."

The bacteria growth caused by the unsafe food temperatures could make kids sick, causing mostly tummy troubles.

The study falls short of showing whether kids actually got sick, but it does offer recommendations. Pack non-perishable foods, like fruits, veggies, chips, crackers and lots of PB&J. Make your lunch sack a mayo-free zone.

The study also recommends you freeze juice boxes, yogurts or other things that could help keep lunches cool.

Email: dwimmer@ksl.com

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Nadine Wimmer

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