Food prep, storage, just as important in children’s nutrition

WASHINGTON — With the new school year, Virginia’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has a few friendly prep and storage reminders for kids’ meals before, during and after lunch.

Food safety experts said preparing and storing the foods your kids eat is just as important to their health as the food itself. Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly at temperatures as low as 40 degrees.

Helpful hints include:

Food Packing 

  • If the lunch or snack contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese or yogurt, make sure to pack it with at least two cold sources.
  • Frozen juice boxes or water can also be used as freezer packs. Freeze these items overnight and use with at least one other freezer pack. By lunchtime, the liquids should be thawed and ready to drink.
  • If packing a lunch the night before, leave it in the refrigerator overnight. The meal will stay cold longer because everything will be refrigerator temperature when it is placed in the lunchbox.
  • If packing snacks for the team, troop or group, keep perishable foods in a cooler with ice or cold packs until snack time. Pack snacks in individual bags or containers, rather than having children share food from one serving dish.

Food Storage

  • Store food in the refrigerator (40 degrees or below) or freezer (zero degrees or below).

Eating and Disposal

  • Pack disposable wipes for washing hands before and after eating.

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