August 8th, 2011
12:01 AM ET

Secret for a safe kid's lunch: Extra ice

When you're packing your kid's lunchbox in the morning, the ice pack is just as important as the fruit and the sandwich. And new research finds you might need more than one to keep your little one healthy.

Looking at the lunches of preschool age children, Texas researchers found that 98% of the time the food was not as cold or as hot as it should be for safe eating, even if packed in an insulated lunch box or stored in a hot thermos. This means your child may be more likely to come home with a stomach ache.

"This is a red flag. This means that the recommendations for food safety are not being followed," said Dr. Steve Abrams, member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.

Food science experts at the University of Texas in Austin tested the temperature of foods in more than 700 packed lunches of 3- to 5-year-olds attending day care.

The scientists were surprised by what they found. The results appear in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.

"I was shocked to discover that almost 40% of the time, parents had not packed an ice pack in their child's lunch," said study author Fawaz Almansour with the Department of Nutrition at the University of Texas at Austin.

But even when several ice packs arrived in the lunch, more than 90% of the perishable foods had entered the temperature danger zone. When foods that should stay chilled, such as milk, meat and sliced fruits, reach temperatures above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, it's  risky to eat them, especially if they've sat longer than two hours.

For hot items such as a thermos of soup, the temperature needs to stay at 140 degrees or above. When temperatures deviate from the safe zone, this gives bacteria a fertile playground, potentially spoiling food and sickening people who consume it. If your child complains of a stomach ache or is vomiting or has diarrhea, it's not necessarily a bug caught from another child. It may be from the food he ate that day. According to the study, children younger than 3 or younger are four and a half times more likely than adults who are 49 or younger to suffer from a foodborne illness .

The Texas researchers found that the average temperature for perishable foods had climbed to 62 degrees by lunchtime, more than 20 degrees  higher than recommended.

"Parents want to do the right thing for their child ,and I think that sometimes there is not an awareness that some foods need to stay cold," says Diane Van, deputy director of food safety education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Van says that there are several practical things that parents can do when packing their child's lunch and they don't have to take a lot of time.


– When you can, freeze it

Before you head to bed, take your child's milk, juice or water and put it in the freezer. It can then serve as a second ice pack and help keep other foods cold. You can also do this with other foods as such as yogurt or soft cheeses. When making a chicken sandwich or other perishable mainstay, put it in the freezer as well, leaving the lettuce and tomato in the refrigerator to be added later.

– Keep it cold

If you're sending a whole apple or an orange,  which normally don't need to be refrigerated, put it in anyway to get cold. This will help keep the overall temperature of the lunch box lower.

– Make sure it's insulated

When shopping for a lunch box, choose one that's insulated. Van says that  there are many more of these available than in years past and that they can really make a difference.

– Double up on the ice packs

Always use an ice pack or cold source. If you have room, try to use more than one. Remember that a frozen beverage can help.

– Use the day care refrigerator

If your child's day care has a refrigerator, ask to use it.

If you'd like to test the temperature of your child's lunch, you can use a refrigerator thermometer to get a reading. You can find them at your hardware store or where appliances are sold.


– When cold weather hits, children sometimes like hot soup as part of their lunch. The best way to ensure that it stays at 140 degrees or higher is to pour boiling water into the thermos in the morning, letting it sit for several minutes. Then pour the hot soup into the container.

And the rules for packaging lunches don't just apply to children. When taking leftovers and other items to work, don't forget your own ice packs. You may need to schedule a trip to the store to buy some extras so that everyone in the family can eat safe healthy meals.

Follow @CNNHealth on Twitter

soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. LhdvZisse

    cialis online buy https://asciled.com/ cialis self life

    April 22, 2021 at 14:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RfvbZisse

    cialis with dapoxetine cheap https://cileve.com/ cialis online

    April 23, 2021 at 06:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. LrbsEncox

    comparison viagra cialis levitra https://uslevitraanna.com/ levitra at walgreens

    April 23, 2021 at 22:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. BbdfMile

    get viagra prescription https://gensitecil.com/ can you take cialis in the morning and viagra at night

    April 23, 2021 at 23:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. LhdvZisse

    cialis by mail http://asciled.com/ – viamedic cialis cialis pay with paypal

    April 24, 2021 at 06:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RfvbZisse

    cialis20mg http://cileve.com/ cialis before and after pictures

    April 24, 2021 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. FbsfEncox

    online pharmacy https://uspharmus.com/ Danazol

    April 24, 2021 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. AbdgEncox

    Flagyl http://canadianeve21.com/ – canadian pharmacy generic viagra Chloromycetin

    April 24, 2021 at 18:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. GvdbCrulk

    cialis tadalafil online http://boxtadafil.com/ – tadalafil with latairis tadalafil 40 mg india

    April 24, 2021 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. gema club suncity

    Useful information. Fortunate me I discovered your
    website unintentionally, and I am stunned why this twist of fate didn't took place in advance!
    I bookmarked it.

    Also visit my site ... gema club suncity

    April 26, 2021 at 02:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. JbsdEncox

    pharmacies shipping to usa national pharmacies online Periactin

    April 26, 2021 at 04:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. LrbsEncox

    levitra cost walmart levitra purchase how to take levitra

    April 26, 2021 at 05:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. FbsfEncox

    ed meds online https://uspharmus.com/ buy medication without an rx

    April 26, 2021 at 05:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. JbsdEncox

    prescription drugs prices https://onlinecanda21.com/ trusted online pharmacy reviews

    April 26, 2021 at 14:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. AbdgEncox

    walmart pharmacy online http://canadianeve21.com/ Amaryl

    April 28, 2021 at 04:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. LhdvZisse

    do you need a prescription for cialis http://asciled.com/ – generic cialis online buy brand cialis online usa

    April 28, 2021 at 08:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RfvbZisse

    the cialis promise program http://cileve.com/ – blood pressure on cialis cialis 10mg

    April 29, 2021 at 03:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. June

    Quality articles or reviews is the crucial to invite the people to pay a quick visit
    the web site, that's what this web page is providing.

    April 29, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. GvdbCrulk

    cialis tadalafil tablets http://boxtadafil.com/ tadalafil combitic

    April 29, 2021 at 13:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. LhdvZisse

    where to get free samples of cialis https://asciled.com/ but cialis online

    April 30, 2021 at 23:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RfvbZisse

    cialis for daily use cost https://cileve.com/ cialis one a day with dapoxetine canada

    May 1, 2021 at 09:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. LrbsEncox

    levitra commercial which is better levitra or viagra levitra 20mg vs.viagra 100mg

    May 1, 2021 at 10:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. FbsfEncox

    canada drugs http://uspharmus.com/ – best 10 online canadian pharmacies canadian pills

    May 2, 2021 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. AbdgEncox

    erectile dysfunction medications https://canadianeve21.com/ Flagyl

    May 2, 2021 at 22:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. LbsoZisse

    cialis available in walgreens over counter?? https://ucialisdas.com/ cialis shop usa

    May 3, 2021 at 06:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. RebfZisse

    buy cialis online in austalia http://rcialisgl.com/ buy cialis cheap

    May 4, 2021 at 03:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. BbshMile

    walgreens generic viagra http://loxviagra.com/ free viagra samples no shipping

    May 4, 2021 at 14:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. LebnEncox

    canada pharma limited https://xlnpharmacy.com/ safe reliable canadian pharmacy

    May 4, 2021 at 17:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. GtnbCrulk

    does viagra work https://jokviagra.com/ viagra coupons

    May 5, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. LbsoZisse

    cialisis https://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis 40 mg cialis kaufen

    May 5, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. RebfZisse

    canadien pharmacy no prescription cialis http://rcialisgl.com/ cialis no prescriptuin

    May 5, 2021 at 12:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. FmrfEncox

    cialis 5mg no prescription http://cialisee.com/ – original cialis low price lowest price cialis

    May 5, 2021 at 20:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. AnooEncox

    viagra 4 ore https://llviagra.com/ venta de viagra en parana

    May 5, 2021 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. FmrfEncox

    price generic cialis https://cialisee.com/ – purchase cialis generic cialis india

    May 7, 2021 at 02:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. JebgEncox

    shoppers drug mart canada http://pharmacylo.com/ no prescription pharmacies

    May 7, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. LebnEncox

    prescription prices comparison Viagra Super Active Enalapril

    May 7, 2021 at 10:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. leadgen@lexiconpublishing.com

    Hey There!

    See how I managed to get your attention? Wouldn't it be amazing if you could get in front of millions of targeted people with your own product or service...just like I just did (wink)

    Contact 50k targeted leads for 5 cents each [$2,500]
    Contact 100k targeted leads for 4 cents each [$4,000]
    Contact 250k targeted leads for 3 cents each [$7,500]
    Contact 500k targeted leads for 2 cents each [$10,000]
    Contact 1 Million targeted leads for 1.5 cents each [$15,000]

    Let me know if this interests you by replying with the type of product and/or service that you are interested in promoting.

    We will only accept you as a client if we believe our method would work well for you.


    May 7, 2021 at 17:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. JebgEncox

    Vastarel canada pharmacy world canada pharmaceuticals online generic

    May 7, 2021 at 19:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. GtnbCrulk

    comprar viagra http://jokviagra.com/ – viagra and lisinopril viagra doses

    May 9, 2021 at 01:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. AnooEncox

    how to use viagra medicine https://llviagra.com/ – viagra wikipedia tieng viet viagra laxative

    May 9, 2021 at 11:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. BbshMile

    coupons for viagra https://loxviagra.com/ buy viagra online cheap

    May 9, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. LbsoZisse

    wallmart cialis https://ucialisdas.com/ – cialis with dapoxetine australia overnight delivery viagra/cialis black and gold 800

    May 10, 2021 at 05:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Cara masuk Id test club suncity

    Hey! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering if you knew where I could locate a
    captcha plugin for my comment form? I'm using the same blog platform as yours
    and I'm having trouble finding one? Thanks a lot!

    Here is my blog :: Cara masuk Id test club suncity

    May 10, 2021 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. RebfZisse

    200 mg cialis https://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis overnight shipping buy cialis online free shipping

    May 11, 2021 at 01:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. BbshMile

    viagra coupon walgreens http://loxviagra.com/ – viagra vs levitra viagra expiration

    May 11, 2021 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. LbsoZisse

    cialis for entertainment purposes https://ucialisdas.com/ mastercard generic cialis

    May 12, 2021 at 06:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. GtnbCrulk

    female viagra review https://jokviagra.com/ can i buy viagra over the counter

    May 12, 2021 at 16:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. RebfZisse

    cialis paypal bezahlen http://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis with dapoxetine or viagra with dapoxetine better cialis brand no prescription 365

    May 12, 2021 at 17:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. LebnEncox

    aarp recommended canadian pharmacies http://xlnpharmacy.com/ uk pharmacy no prescription

    May 12, 2021 at 21:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. FmrfEncox

    buy cialis overnight delivery http://cialisee.com/ – viamedic cialis comparison of 10 mg cialis price

    May 12, 2021 at 22:49 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Reply to JnhCrulk


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.