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Tips: Pack a Safe, Healthy Bagged Lunch

The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and U.S. Department of Agriculture offer guidelines to help parents as they prepare their students' meals.

Back-to-school time means it's back to bagged lunches for many students in the Saline Area Schools district.

Fortunately, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has some advice that can help parents pack a safe and healthy bagged lunch.

[What are your student's favorite bagged lunch meals and how do you keep them safe? Leave a comment!]

"Providing your child with the proper nutrition is important, but it's just as important that those healthy choices are kept safe," said Kevin Besey, MDARD's Food and Dairy Division director.  "Following simple guidelines can ensure the lunch you pack your child is safe from bacteria that may cause food-borne illnesses."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and MDARD advise parents use the following guidelines.

  • Before packing lunches, wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before the next item.
  • Use at least two ice sources (two ice packs or one ice pack and one frozen water bottle or juice box) to keep perishable food items cold.
  • Use insulated containers to best keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  • Avoid having leftovers by not over packing perishable food items.
  • Discard used paper bags and used food packaging.
  • When reheating leftovers cover food for safe, even heating and to hold in moisture.
  • Food items that don't require refrigeration include: whole fruits and vegetables, hard cheese, canned meat and fish, breads, crackers, peanut butter, jelly, mustard, and pickles.

Visit www.foodsafety.gov or www.michigan.gov/foodsafety for more food safety information and tips.

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