- Learn how to prevent food-borne illness when preparing lunches
- Find out which foods can be kept at room temperature and which need to be kept cold or hot
Lunchbox food safety
We often think about healthy eating when preparing lunches, but it’s important to keep food safety in mind too.
Here are some tips for preventing food-borne illnesses (food poisoning) when you’re making lunch for yourself or your child.
- Make sure the counter, lunchbox, containers and ice packs are clean.
- Before preparing the lunch, wash your hands with warm water and soap.
- Opt for a reusable, insulated lunchbox – it will protect the food and keep it at the right temperature.
- If you prepare lunch the day before, leave any perishable foods in the refrigerator until morning.
- Use an ice pack to keep food cool.
- Use an insulated container (such as a Thermos) to keep hot food hot. First fill the container with boiling water, screw on the lid, and wait about 10 minutes before emptying it and pouring in the heated food.
- After lunch, throw away all leftover perishable foods (e.g., milk, meat sandwiches, stews).
Bacteria that can cause food-borne illnesses develop very quickly on some foods. Perishable foods (e.g., yogurt, meat, cheese) must stay out of the temperature danger zone (4–60°C) to be safe to eat at lunchtime.
Must remain cold
- Yogurt, cheese and milk
- Meat, poultry, fish and seafood
- Salads made with legumes, beans, pasta or rice
- Fruit and vegetables (peeled, cut or leafy)
- Foods containing mayonnaise or other sauces
- Tofu spread and hummus
If you heat up food at home, it must be put in an insulated container so that it stays above 60°C.
Can be kept at room temperature
- Fruit and vegetables (not peeled or cut)
- Bread, tortillas and pitas
- Muffins and granola bars
- Trail mix with seeds and dried fruits
- Dry cereals
- Canned salmon or tuna (unopened)
For other lunch suggestions, get a free copy of the brochure "A Practical and User-Friendly Guide: Breakfasts + Snacks + Lunches".