Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Just in time for back to school shopping, another study has been published to make mothers crazy.

Nine out of 10 school lunches sent from home reach potentially unsafe temperatures by the time kids eat them — even if an ice-pack was included. 

Ninety percent of the 705-preschooler sack lunches tested by University of Texas scientists had risen to temperatures considered too high to prevent the growth of bacteria, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Pediatrics. Unsafe, as the researchers defined it, was anything that sat for more than two hours between 39 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. But that doesn't mean kids are actually getting sick.

So - the lunches, even with an ice pack, even with multiple ice packs, are rising to levels where bacteria could grow.  “This is a provocative study,” said Dr. Michael Green, a pediatrician with the division of infectious diseases at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and a professor of pediatrics and surgery at the School of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. “Their findings certainly raise concern. But there is a missing piece: it doesn’t tell you what this does to the relative risk of disease.”

Ya think?  How many generations of us have survived sack lunches? 

And of course one of the answers to this "problem" is to buy shelf-stable foods - expensive, preservative filled and not eco-friendly.  Or to buy school lunches, which we all know are nutritionally problematic in most places.

As usual, common sense has to be the rule.  Most food born illness is from improper handling or it has been exposed to bacteria at the growing or packing site.  If we are safe at home, washing produce and packing lunches with some care, our kids are not going to get sick from them.

And don't forget to pack the little love notes. 


hokgardner said...

When I think of how many warm deviled ham sandwiches I ate. And yogurts that started out frozen but were merely cool by the time lunch rolled around . . .

Honestly, it's lucky I'm alive.

Tricia said...

I am reminded of something I heard in relation to pets. That is, that children raised with pets were less likely to experience allergies. I wonder if the idea is that being exposed to things that are not sterile and clean builds up resistance. Maybe having some bacteria is actually adaptive to help build immunity.

yogurt said...

Three kids, between whom only about a dozen cafeteria lunches have been purchased in their lives, and probably fewer days absent from school in all of their years combined? It's my conclusion that the risk of disease is nil to nada.

However, the risk that I will be subjected to the increased worries of obsessive young mothers who will now believe in the necessity of buying plug in lunch pails? Significant.

yogurt said...

excellent title, by the way :)