Back-to-School Food Safety

Clean: Clean Hands, Clean Surfaces

  • Wash hands with warm, soapy water before preparing or eating food.
  • Wash utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each  food item.
  • Use clean packaging and bags.

Separate: Don’t Cross-Contaminate

  • Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a different one for meat and poultry to avoid cross contamination.
  • At lunchtime, discard all used food packaging and paper bags. Do not reuse packaging because it could contaminate other food and cause foodborne illness.

Chill: Keep Lunches Cold

  • Keeping food cold slows bacterial growth and keeps food safe.
  • Harmful bacteria multiply rapidly in the “Danger Zone” — the temperatures between 40 and 140 °F.
  • Keep perishable food refrigerated until time to leave home.
  • Include a frozen gel pack or frozen juice box with perishable food in the insulated lunch bag or lunch box.
  • Use an insulated soft-sided bag if possible. It’s best for keeping food cold.
  • Store perishable items in a refrigerator (if available) immediately upon arrival.

Keep Hot Lunches Hot

  • Use an insulated container to keep hot food hot — 140 °F or above.
  • Cook frozen convenience meals according to package instructions, including standing time if using a microwave.

For more information, visit www.befoodsafe.org