A recent study has found that sack lunches kids bring to school are often not kept cold enough to prevent illness. SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center Spokesperson Rita Chrivia says younger children have less robust immune systems, making them more vulnerable to food-borne illness. Click to hear Chrivia.

Rita Chrivia

“Not every lunch has to have a meat-type protein, and certainly it is the lunch meats that tend to be a little more susceptible to having bacteria in them. You can use a protein like peanut butter that doesn’t require refrigeration; you can use hummus, the ground chickpea type spread that has a lot of good protein in it; you can use a yogurt, which has good protein, but if you take the time to freeze the yogurt ahead of time, even if it’s not kept in a refrigerator, by the time lunch comes it will be thawed but still at a good temperature.”

Chrivia says parents need to take steps to keep their child’s lunch cool enough. Click to hear Chrivia.

Rita Chrivia

“If you think about it, if you have not eaten for a number of hours, even if yes, you ate something for breakfast but now it’s 5 hours later and it’s time for lunch, children in particular, they’re running out of energy. They don’t have the stamina to keep going; they’re more easily distracted, and so giving them that good healthy lunch in the middle of the day helps them to keep going and do as well in the afternoon as they did in the morning.”

The study look at temperatures of 705 lunches containing at least one perishable item. Temperatures were measured an hour before lunches were served. Well over 90% of meats, dairy items and vegetables were not in the safe zone. Even having an ice-pack in the lunchbox doesn’t guarantee the food to be well-chilled. Freezing juice boxes and peanut butter sandwiches can be effective in providing safe and healthy foods.