Survey finds 25% of parents fail to pack a frozen drink or freezer block in their child’s school lunchbox

Media release: 21 January 2015

Research by the Food Safety Information Council released today has found that a quarter of parents that pack a lunchbox for school fail to include a frozen drink or freezer block.

Food Safety Information Council Chair, Professor Michael Eyles, said packed lunches are great for healthy eating but we need to transport food to school safely to ensure we don’t become one of the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year.

‘Bacteria can grow quickly in some foods, like cooked poultry and other meats; dairy products and sandwich fillings, snacks and dressings containing egg, so it is important to keep your lunchbox cool. At school your child’s lunchbox will stay cool until lunchtime if kept in their school bag with a frozen drink or freezer block inside the lunchbox.

‘And don’t forget, this is also true for lunch taken to work. While it’s encouraging to see that 93% of those that packed a lunch said they used a cooler bag or stored their lunch in a fridge at work, there are still a few important things you can do to avoid becoming another foodborne illness statistic. Keep your workplace kitchen clean – set up a roster to ensure bench tops are clean and that dishcloths, sponges, brushes and tea towels are clean and replaced regularly. Make sure the work fridge is running at 5°C or below and is kept clean and free of festering forgotten lunches, ’ Professor Eyles concluded.

Follow these 7 simple lunchbox food safety tips:

  1. When buying lunchboxes choose ones that have room for a frozen drink or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
  2. When preparing food, always practice scrupulous hand washing and ensure cutting boards, benches and utensils are clean and dry.
  3. Wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
  4. Make sure lunchbox foods are always well separated from other foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken and fish.
  5. Keep your lunch cool in the fridge until you are about to leave home.
  6. Divide cooked leftovers into small lunch-sized portions so they refrigerate or freeze quickly and when reheating, make sure they are heated until 75 °C all the way through – stir or turn food as appropriate.

For more information see work and school lunchbox safety and for healthy lunchbox ideas see the Dietitians Association of Australia.

The Food Safety Information Council is Australia’s leading disseminator of consumer-targeted food safety information which

aims to address the estimated 4.1 million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year that result in 31,920 hospitalisations, 86 deaths and 1 million visits to doctors on average each year.

Contact: Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council

Tel 0407 626 688