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USDA recommends adding food safety items to your back-to-school list

WASHINGTON, August 15, 2022 – On your next back-to-school shopping trip, be sure to Lunch-safe shopping list.

“Every day, parents focus on the health and safety of their children, and that includes how they prepare and pack lunch,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Director of Food Safety minister. “Because children are particularly vulnerable to serious foodborne illness, food safety must be a top priority when preparing lunches for school and field trips.”

Please consider the following Click on the shopping list:

  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and utensils : Clear your prep area before you start school lunches. A recent USDA study (PDF, 102 KB) showed that cross-contamination is common in kitchens during food preparation. So be sure to soap your cutting boards, plates, utensils, and countertops after preparing each food item before moving on to the next. A homemade bleach solution of one tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach in one gallon of water can be used to disinfect kitchen surfaces and utensils.
  • Chopping boards of different colors: Combine meat and poultry with ready-to-eat foods (such as fruit , vegetables, cheese, etc.) separate to avoid cross-contamination as you prepare the food.
  • Food thermometer for food preparation: If you are cooking frozen food for your child’s At lunch, use a food thermometer to check that a meal has reached a safe temperature to kill any harmful bacteria. Note: Some frozen foods are not fully cooked or ready to eat, but have browned crumbs, grill marks, or other signs that they are cooked. Make sure they are cooked to a safe internal temperature: Meat (whole beef, pork, and lamb) 145 F, rest 3 minutes; ground meat 160 F; poultry (ground and whole) 165 F; eggs 160 F; fish and shellfish Class 145 F; and Leftovers and Casseroles 165 F.
  • Insulated Lunch Boxes and Gel Packs: Perishable food may not be safe to eat at lunchtime if it is in a paper bag. Store food in insulated bags to keep food cool. Place a frozen gel pack to combine with a frozen juice box or a bottle of water to keep food cold and avoid the “danger zone” (temperatures between 40 F and 140 F where bacteria can multiply quickly and cause disease).
  • Warmer: If hot liquids such as soups, peppers or stews are on the menu , use an insulated container that can keep items at 140 F and above. Fill the container with boiling water, let it sit for a few minutes, empty it, and pour in the hot food. Keep insulated containers closed until lunchtime.
  • Handwashing Assistant : Hand towel and 60% in the absence of water and soap , alcohol-based hand sanitizers are great for children to clean their hands before meals.

    Learn more about the USDA’s Four Steps to Food Safety and by calling USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email [email protected] to answer your food safety lunch questions Monday-Friday 10am-6pm ET at ask.usda .gov live chat.

    Visit to access the FSIS Newsroom and Other Information. Follow FSIS on Twitter at or in Spanish:

    USDA impacts the lives of all Americans in many positive ways every day. During the Biden-Harris administration, the USDA is transforming America’s food system, focusing more on more resilient local and regional food production, providing a fairer market for all producers, and ensuring that all communities have access to safe, healthy and nutrient-dense foods, creating new markets and using climate-smart food and forestry practices to provide income streams for farmers and producers, making historic investments in rural America’s infrastructure and clean energy capabilities, and building Be more representative of the U.S. workforce and work toward equity across the sector. To learn more, visit


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