As Australia gets ready for the start of the school year, the Food Safety Information Council is calling on the school community to learn more about food safety as well as how to keep lunch boxes safe.
Food Safety is everyone’s responsibility, Council Chair Cathy Moir said, whether you volunteer at the school canteen, pack your child’s lunch, are about to teach your child how to prepare their own lunch, or take part in school fundraisers. Preventing food poisoning is essential for the safety of our children.
‘This year we have partnered with our supporter Provisual to get food safety information, including links to COVID safe information, into school canteens and tuckshops. In particular we would like parents, other family members and school canteen volunteers to do our affordable, online Food Safety Essentials course that explains the food safety basics simply and easily.
‘Additionally, every school that registers with our member Highfield e-learning gets access to a series of free materials for schools to download as well as low cost training courses (essential, top-up and level 1), which allow teachers to effortlessly include food safety into lesson plans. Once registered, everyone involved in food safety in schools can access the fr ee materials and reduced cost training including canteen volunteers, parents, school staff and students. Registered schools can also enter our online competition for the chance to win a $50 Bunnings Gift voucher.
‘As an essential life skill and to increase employment opportunities, we would also like high school students to take the Food Safety Essentials top up course which has been endorsed by Environmental Health Australia. Our consumer research consistently shows poorer food safety among younger people. For example, our recent Omnipoll national handwashing survey found only 75% of respondents between 18 and 34 years said they always washed their hands after going to the toilet (compared with 89% of over 50s) and only 55% of respondents between 18 and 34 years said they always washed their hands before handling food (compared with 61% of over 50s). This is a concern as young people will often go on to work as food handlers either as a full time or part time job or have jobs caring for vulnerable groups in the child, aged care and disability sectors,’ Ms Moir concluded.
In addition, here are 6 tips for parents about how to prepare a safe lunchbox for their children:
- When buying lunchboxes, choose those that have room for a frozen water bottle or freezer block and are easy to clean and dry.
- Always wash and dry your hands thoroughly before preparing food, and wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.
- Make sure ready-to-eat lunchbox foods are always kept separated from raw foods in the refrigerator, particularly raw meats, chicken, eggs, and seafood.
- Keep the lunch cool in the fridge until you are ready to leave home, then put an ice brick or frozen drink in it to keep it cold until lunchtime.
- During hot weather you may want to consider providing safer lunchbox alternatives that can be safely stored at room temperature, such as hard or processed cheese, uncut vegetables or tuna in a can.
- Discard any higher risk foods such as sushi, salads, meat, cut fruits, poultry, rice or eggs if your child brings them home uneaten.
You can find out more about the Highfield e-learning’s courses, including how to enter the Bunnings gift voucher competition here, and you can order Provisual’s free canteen posters here.
For tips about how to prepare a nutritious lunchbox see advice from our members Choice and Dietitians Australia
Lydia Buchtmann, Food Safety Information Council, 0407 626 688 or firstname.lastname@example.org