USDA Food Safety Expert shares back-to-school tips for home lunches

The USDA encourages parents and caregivers to take extra precautions when preparing a child's lunch for school.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:34 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- When packing a child’s lunch for school it is important to remember the four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill.

As schools across the state begin the new year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages parents and caregivers to take extra precautions when preparing and packing a child’s home lunch.

When a home lunch is not properly packed, it can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that U.S. foodborne illness results in about 48 million people getting sick, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths each year.

The USDA urges families to prevent foodborne illness by following safe food handling practices when packing lunches. This includes having cold sources like ice packs, frozen juice, or insulated lunch boxes for perishable foods, using different colored cutting boards for meats and veggies, and adding food safety items to your shopping list.