A new study by the University of Texas at Austin shows that 90 percent of homemade sack lunches are kept at unsafe temperatures by children. These unsafe conditions cause kids to consume additional bacteria. The study shows that the best storage temperature is below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for cold foods, and above 140 degrees Fahrenheit for hot foods. BISD Food and Nutrition Services Supervisor George Pebworth says he isn’t surprised by the results of the study, but says there are ways to combat the problem.
“Put the food in the insulated bag with the gel pack on top because the cold will move down. That will keep a lunch very cold until time to eat,” says Pebworth. “Foods that would be relatively safe would be foods like peanut butter or foods of plant origin rather than animal origin.”
Pebworth says that the increased bacteria can be especially harmful to younger children.
“Bacteria multiple very rapidly,” says Pebworth. “The immune system of a student might be able to handle ten bacteria but probably can't handle a million bacteria.”
One positive for BISD students is they can choose to eat at school for free.
“Every child at Brownsville ISD can have one free breakfast and one free lunch every day,” says BISD Administrator for Food and Nutrition Services Terry Mendez.
Mendez says the study is a bit concerning but may not effect BISD students as much because very few bring lunch from home. According to Mendez, 90 percent of BISD students choose to eat the meal provided by the school rather than bring their own lunch.