Packing Lunches & Food Safety for Better Health
As we pack lunches for school and picnics for the few remaining beach days this summer, it is important to keep food safety in mind. “About 1 in 6 (or 48 million) people get sick each year from contaminated food.” (from the Center for Disease Control). If you’ve ever experienced the effects of food contaminated illness, you’ll agree it’s no picnic at the beach.
A friend of mine was recently diagnosed with having a rare parasite that caused months of digestive issues. Soon after the diagnosis, she received a call from a doctor at the CDC who was trying to discover the source of this unwelcome guest. The physician explained that organisms have a history of appearing on fruits and vegetables (especially raspberries) grown in South America.
A tip, directly from the experts, may help you keep down that lunch you eat at the beach or pack to take to work and school. Wash all fruits and veggies, including the raspberries that want to fall apart when run under water and lettuce that comes in a bag and says it has already been washed.
The USDA recommends keeping cold food cold with a small ice pack, and keeping hot food hot, when packing lunches. Discard any leftover food when you get home. Of course, start with clean food — washed and dried — and you will help keep cookies from being “tossed” and lunches “lost.” If for some reason, you do contract an illness related to food, make sure to use a Maine Warmers’ microwave heating pad to comfort cramped abdominal muscles.