From Reuters Health InformationBy Frederik Joelving
NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Aug 08 2011 - A Texas study that tested more than 700 preschoolers' lunch packs found less than 2% of the meats, vegetables and dairy products were in the safe temperature zone.
"It was a shock when we discovered that more than 90% of the perishable items in these packed lunches were kept at unsafe temperatures," said Fawaz Almansour, a doctoral student at the University of Texas in Austin.
His study, released online today in Pediatrics, is the first to check how the food that kids' bring to school is doing about an hour and a half before lunchtime.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, perishable foods kept between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 60 degrees Celsius) for more than two hours are no longer safe to eat.
Although 45% of the packed lunches included an ice pack and 12% were kept in refrigerators, nearly all of the perishable foods were in the danger zone.
According to the CDC, one in six Americans gets food poisoning every year, but it is unclear how many cases are caused by lukewarm sack lunches.
"This study is an eye-opener more than anything else," Almansour told Reuters Health. "It shows there is a problem."
His recommendation? Pack the lunch with lots of icepacks, and have kids take it out of the container at school and put it in the fridge.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/rdSUsH Pediatrics 2011.