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How to keep food safe at school

Safe handling of food during school recess or lunchtime

Many children get sick when the school year starts up, or immediately after a holiday break as germs may be lurking in an unexpected place: A frequently used surface or lunch boxes and bags can harbor bacteria.

Kids often don’t wash their hands before handling their lunch boxes and food. Since most lunches include finger foods e.g. a pie, sandwiches and cut up celery and carrots it’s so easy to see how germs and bacteria can make kids ill.

One option apart from encouraging hand washing is that parents can put a small bottle of antibacterial gel with a tight-fitting lid in children’s lunch boxes to encourage them to clean up before eating. This is a great idea if kids are buying some or all of their lunch from the tuckshop as well and it depend of what surface they also place their lunch on so a couple of pieces of paper towel can also be used on surfaces that may have been used by multiple people.

When packing lunches, adults and children need to follow good hygiene and food safety practices.

No matter who prepares the food and packs the lunch, start with clean hands, a clean work surface and a clean lunch box. If lunch containers are not washed daily, crumbs and spills can accumulate and result in a build-up of bacteria.

Most people do not think about cleaning the refrigerator handle, but busy cooks often handle kitchen equipment without stopping to wash their hands between tasks.

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A great fact sheet is available from the NSW Food Authority for School Canteens, which you can download. http://www.foodauthority.nsw.gov.au/_Documents/industry_pdf/fresh_tastes_at_school-canteens_factsheet-060737.pdf