24 February 2010
National Lunchbox Day was officially launched today to highlight that there’s nothing cool about having a lunchbox so warm the food could make you sick.
World mountain running champion and winner of the Empire State Building Run-up, Melissa Moon, and New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA) microbiologist Kathleen Shaw taught 40 students from Wellington’s Miramar South School some food smarts before treating them to a cool lunch – in a new lunchbox for each to keep.
Kathleen says lunchboxes exposed to warm temperatures are a breeding ground for foodborne bugs, putting the kids who eat the food in them at risk of getting sick.
A simple way to keep a lunchbox cool is to freeze a drink bottle or yoghurt pottle overnight for an instant ice block.
“Packing perishable foods like cold meat or egg sandwiches between these frozen items can help keep them cool,” she says. “Lunches can be prepared safely ahead of time provided they are kept in the fridge or frozen.
“Also tell your kids to keep their bag and lunchbox out of the sun, and wash their hands before they eat. This will make them food smart.”
Washing hands is another effective way to avoid getting sick from bad bugs. The students learnt and then demonstrated the importance of proper hand washing before tucking into their safe lunch.
“Adults making school lunches need to wash hands with soap, rinse, and fully dry them on a clean hand or paper towel before preparing food,” Kathleen says. “Ensure all benches, utensils, lunchboxes and drink bottles are clean and give fresh fruit and vegetables a good rinse before packing them.”
Kathleen says bad bugs don’t care who’s eating the food, and can make anyone sick: “Lunches taken to work, or picnics packed for a weekend relax should also be made with food safety in mind.”
Each year about 200,000 New Zealanders are estimated to suffer from illness caused by foodborne bugs, at a cost to New Zealand of $86 million a year.
More information on home food safety is available in NZFSA’s publication Food safety in the home.
High resolution images available
KEEPING IT COOL: World mountain running champion Melissa Moon, right, hands a lunch box to Miramar South primary School Student Mikaela Girvan, 10, at the launch of NZFSA’s Lunchbox Day in Wellington.
Download KEEPING IT COOL [JPEG 6.43 MB]
FOOD SMART: World mountain running champion and winner of the Empire State Building Run-up, Melissa Moon, tells students about the importance of food safety to athletes at the launch of NZFSA’s Lunchbox Day in Wellington.
COOL LUNCH MUNCH: Miramar South School students Dylan Evett, left, and Mel Tofete, right, tuck into lunch after learning how to be food smart at the launch of NZFSA’s Lunchbox Day in Wellington.
Download COOL LUNCH MUNCH [JPEG 4.98 MB]
TROPHY CHAMP: World mountain running champion and winner of the Empire State Building Run-up, Melissa Moon, talks to students about the importance of food safety at the launch of NZFSA’s Lunchbox Day in Wellington.
Download TROPHY CHAMP [JPEG 5.02 MB]
CLEAN, COOK, CHILL: Miramar South School student Kaira Scheck, 9, washes her hands at the launch of NZFSA’s Lunchbox Day in Wellington.
Download CLEAN, COOK, CHILL [JPEG 6.71 MB]
For comment contact: Kathleen Shaw, Senior Advisor (Microbiology), 029 894 0644
For information contact: Amy Baldacchino, Adviser, Communications, 029 894 2526