Brown Bagging It: August 29, 2011

You may think your children are getting a well balanced, nutritious lunch if your pack it yourself, but you could be handing them a bag full of trouble.

“There’s some levels of food poisoning that are deadly,” says Larry Altier.

Larry is Director of Food and Nutrition for Lee Memorial Health System. He says our county’s food supply is very safe, but our food handling could use some work.

“The number one thing that anyone can do to protect themselves from food borne illnesses is to make sure the first thing that they do is wash their hands.”

Studies show food preparers aren’t doing it enough. But the biggest health threat is food not being kept at the right temperature.

The biggest culprits were dairy products, meat, followed by vegetables. Here’s things to put on your ‘watch list’ yogurt, cheese, meat, chicken, eggs, fish, tofu, sliced fruit and veggies.

“Keep it under refrigeration at 41 degrees or less and that will protect any potential growth pathogens in that product,” says Altier.

As for condiments, read the labels.

“Vinegars or products with vinegars in them are fairly acidic and as such they tend not to promote the growth of pathogens,” says Altier.

Learning these basic principles…

“Making sure that you inspect, you refrigerate, you wash and you cook to proper temperature,” says Altier.

Should help keep your child in good health.