Get your kids involved in back to school lunchbox food safety (21 January 2020)


As school starts to go back, the Food Safety Information Council is encouraging parents to get their children involved in preparing their school lunch and learning about food safety.

Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that all parents have probably had the experience of finding an uneaten, dried out sandwich still in their child’s lunch box at the end of the day.

‘Getting your kids involved in lunchbox preparation will help them learn about food safety as well as healthier foods, it can also be a lot of fun involving kids in the kitchen. Here are some useful tips to get them involved:

  1. Get your kids to help buy a lunchbox, choose ones that have room for a frozen drink or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
  2. Before handling food always get your kids to wash their hands using soap for 20 seconds and to dry their hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. To help them understand how long 20 seconds is get them to sing ‘Happy Birthday to You’
  3. Get them to help wash all fruits and vegetables under running water to remove any germs (they can catch the water in a bowl and put it on the garden but not on your veggie garden).
  4. Let them choose the healthy option they would like in their lunches when they come shopping with you and teach them to put chilled or frozen food in a cooler bag to bring home
  5. They can have fun baking items for their lunchboxes like healthy muffins or biscuits. Licking the spoon is always fun but remember any uncooked eggs in a cake mix and raw cookie dough can cause food poisoning, you may want to consider the safer alternative of using commercial pasteurised eggs.
  6. Batches of sandwiches without vegetables can be made in advance and frozen.
  7. Make sure lunchbox foods are always kept separated from raw foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken and eggs in their shells.
  8. Once your kids have prepared their lunch get them to keep it cool in the fridge until you are ready to leave home, then put an ice brick in the lunch box.

‘Your child’s lunchbox will keep a safe temperature until lunchtime at school as long as it has a frozen drink or ice brick in it (and don’t forget to put an ice brick in your own lunchbox and refrigerate it when you get to work). During hot weather you may want to consider providing safer lunchbox alternatives, such as hard or processed cheese, tuna in a can or vacuum packed, or sandwich spreads. Discard any higher risk foods such as sushi, salad, meat, poultry or eggs if not eaten within a day of you cooking or preparing them.

See some great healthy kids lunchbox ideas from our member the Dietitians Association of Australia

The Food Safety Information Council would particularly like to thank Australian Pasteurised Eggs, the Gold Sponsor for our Summer Campaign, as well as Tonic Health Media for their support. Tonic Health Media are Australia’s largest health and wellness network and will be broadcast our important food safety messages  in 5,300+ GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and health centre waiting areas across the country to an audience of 15 million+ per month  see their website for more info.

Media contact:

Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or

The Food Safety Information Council is a health promotion charity 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, 1 million visits to doctors