Play it safe
- Wash and dry hands before preparing and eating.
- Keep food prep areas and containers clean and dry.
- Make sure you wash all fruit and vegetables thoroughly.
- When cutting up fruit for lunch boxes, squeeze the juice from ¼ of a lemon onto the fruit to keep it from browning and going soft during the day.
- Keep wet ingredients like tomato, beetroot and cucumber in the middle of the sandwich fillings to avoid the bread becoming soggy. Lettuce leaves, meat or cheese work well as the outside layer.
- Sandwiches should be thrown out if not eaten that day.
- Keep lunches cool by storing inside an insulated lunch box or cooler bag with a frozen drink (e.g. water) or freezer brick.
- Encourage children to store their lunchboxes out of direct sunlight.
- Prep the night before or in the morning and pop it in the fridge until leaving for school.
- If using leftovers, use within 24 hours or freeze immediately.
High risk foods – be aware
Food Safety Australia New Zealand considers that high risk foods include ready-to-eat, minimally-processed fruits and vegetables; fresh leafy green vegetables; melons; berries; and sprouts.
Did you know?
Food businesses are advised to throw out cut rockmelons if they have been out of temperature control for more than 2 hours. As this is difficult with school lunch boxes which are not refrigerated during school, it is important to use ice bricks/frozen water in the lunch box to keep contents cold for as long as possible.
What to do with high-risk foods
- Avoid cutting up high-risk fruit and vegetables when the skin is damaged (e.g. bruising) as this may allow bacteria to enter the flesh where they can grow.
- Cut amounts of high-risk fruit and vegetables when required, rather than a large amount all at once.
- Keep cut high-risk fruit and vegetables at 5°C or below to reduce the rate at which bacteria can grow.
- Uneaten potentially hazardous fruits and vegetables should be thrown out if not eaten during school.
Further helpful information:
- Healthier. Happier.: https://www.healthier.qld.gov.au/guides/food-safety/
- Information on food preparation, and how to kill or slow the growth of harmful bacteria that contaminate food, see https://www.qld.gov.au/health/staying-healthy/environmental/food/poisoning/handling.
- Information on potentially hazardous foods and examples of these food, see https://www.qld.gov.au/health/staying-healthy/environmental/food/poisoning/hazardous-foods .
- Queensland Government Publication – Lunchbox safety https://www.publications.qld.gov.au/dataset/potentially-hazardous-foods/resource/82affadb-8adc-4b49-aaf6-b89a3fdef1a1