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. AnooEncox

    viagra priser danmark https://llviagra.com/ – avec quoi peut on remplacer le viagra reputable viagra online pharmacy

    May 13, 2021 at 02:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. FmrfEncox

    generic cialis express delivery https://cialisee.com/ – 30 day free trial cialis generic cialis site accept mastercard

    May 14, 2021 at 02:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. JebgEncox

    trusted overseas pharmacies online pharmacy pain which online pharmacy is the best

    May 15, 2021 at 09:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. LebnEncox

    online pharmacy without prescription https://xlnpharmacy.com/ trusted canadian pharmacy

    May 15, 2021 at 10:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. JebgEncox

    weight loss https://pharmacylo.com/ cheapest prescription pharmacy

    May 15, 2021 at 17:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. stornobrzinol

    I consider something really interesting about your weblog so I saved to fav.


    May 15, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. AnooEncox

    other tablets like viagra http://llviagra.com/ onde comprar viagra

    May 16, 2021 at 03:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. club suncity kiosk

    I always used to read post in news papers but now as I am a user
    of internet so from now I am using net for articles or reviews, thanks to web.

    Feel free to surf to my web page; club suncity kiosk

    May 16, 2021 at 10:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LbsoZisse

    viagra cialis levitra http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis doesn\'t work?

    May 16, 2021 at 12:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. https://918kiss-m.com/clubsuncity

    My family members every time say that I am killing my time
    here at net, but I know I am getting knowledge everyday by reading such nice posts.

    Feel free to visit my homepage – id akaun test club suncity (https://918kiss-m.com/clubsuncity)

    May 16, 2021 at 17:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. club suncityapk download

    There is definately a lot to find out about this topic.
    I really like all the points you made.

    my page: club suncityapk download

    May 16, 2021 at 18:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. 918Kiss-M.Com

    Hi there, yes this post is actually nice and I have learned
    lot of things from it on the topic of blogging.

    Here is my web blog Game Club Suncity (918Kiss-M.Com)

    May 16, 2021 at 21:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. free download game club suncity

    It's very easy to find out any matter on net as compared to
    books, as I found this paragraph at this site.

    Feel free to surf to my web site ... free download game club suncity

    May 16, 2021 at 21:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RebfZisse

    generic cialis from india safe http://rcialisgl.com/ – genereic cialis purchase brand cialis

    May 17, 2021 at 04:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. BbshMile

    female viagra 2015 http://loxviagra.com/ how much does viagra cost per pill

    May 17, 2021 at 04:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. stornobrzinol

    I really enjoy looking at on this internet site, it contains wonderful articles.


    May 17, 2021 at 13:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. LbsoZisse

    buy generic cialis atralia http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis buy australia online

    May 18, 2021 at 05:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. LebnEncox

    reliable canadian online pharmacy offshore pharmacy no prescription 24 hour drug store near me

    May 18, 2021 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. RebfZisse

    cialis soft tabs, united states origin https://rcialisgl.com/ – cialis online free shipping cialis overnight

    May 18, 2021 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. ntc33apk ios

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and
    sources back to your weblog? My blog site
    is in the exact same area of interest as yours
    and my visitors would genuinely benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks!

    Feel free to surf to my homepage – ntc33apk ios

    May 19, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. FmrfEncox

    cialis bleck http://cialisee.com/ – can i buy cialis without prescription pay pal cialis with dapoxetine

    May 19, 2021 at 19:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. https://918kiss-m.com

    My spouse and I stumbled over here by a different website and thought I
    may as well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.

    Look forward to looking over your web page for a second time.

    Also visit my webpage – kiosk sky777 vip (https://918kiss-m.com)

    May 19, 2021 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. AnooEncox

    how old do you have to take viagra https://llviagra.com/ viagra during chemo

    May 19, 2021 at 22:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. sg918kiss.com

    I am sure this post has touched all the internet people, its really really pleasant paragraph on building up new website.

    Here is my website: download club suncity ios (sg918kiss.com)

    May 19, 2021 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. cara id test epicwin

    Wonderful beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your web site, how
    could i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal.

    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your
    broadcast provided bright clear idea

    My web site cara id test epicwin

    May 20, 2021 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. BbshMile

    is 20mg cialis equal to 100mg viagra http://loxviagra.com/ viagra generic date

    May 20, 2021 at 15:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. JebgEncox

    indian pharmacy http://pharmacylo.com/ no prior prescription required pharmacy

    May 20, 2021 at 16:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. LebnEncox

    best ed medication canadian pharmacy india Premarin

    May 20, 2021 at 17:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. JebgEncox

    discount pharmacy online http://pharmacylo.com/ Hyzaar

    May 21, 2021 at 02:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. GtnbCrulk

    what does viagra look like http://jokviagra.com/ – is 20mg cialis equal to 100mg viagra cheap viagra online

    May 21, 2021 at 05:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. test id Lionking888

    Hi there! I could have sworn I've been to this website before but after checking through some of the
    post I realized it's new to me. Anyhow, I'm definitely happy I found it and I'll be book-marking and
    checking back often!

    Stop by my page :: test id Lionking888

    May 22, 2021 at 06:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. LbsoZisse

    purchase cheap cialis http://ucialisdas.com/ cialis price australia

    May 22, 2021 at 13:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. wm casino demo id

    Hey there! This is my first visit to your blog! We are
    a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community in the same niche.
    Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

    my webpage wm casino demo id

    May 22, 2021 at 16:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RebfZisse

    whats better cialis viagra or levitra https://rcialisgl.com/ – 30 day free cialis cialis order online

    May 23, 2021 at 04:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. FmrfEncox

    ed. trusted medstore in cialis https://cialisee.com/ cialis forum

    May 23, 2021 at 06:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. AnooEncox

    where viagra online http://llviagra.com/ thuoc kich duc nam viagra

    May 23, 2021 at 09:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. LebnEncox

    pharmacies http://xlnpharmacy.com/ canadian pharmacy review

    May 23, 2021 at 23:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. LbsoZisse

    brand cialis online pharmacy https://ucialisdas.com/ cialis no prescription

    May 24, 2021 at 00:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. FmrfEncox

    viagra and cialis discount https://cialisee.com/ – cialis withouth prescriptiong generic cialis?

    May 24, 2021 at 01:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. RebfZisse

    order generic cialis online 20 mg 20 pills https://rcialisgl.com/ cialis con alimentos

    May 24, 2021 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. GtnbCrulk

    before and after viagra https://jokviagra.com/ is viagra sold over the counter

    May 24, 2021 at 18:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. lpe88 slot game

    When I initially commented I clicked the "Notify me when new comments are added" checkbox
    and now each time a comment is added I get three e-mails with
    the same comment. Is there any way you can remove me from that service?


    my web blog – lpe88 slot game

    May 25, 2021 at 03:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. 918ki

    Very good info. Lucky me I recently found your blog by accident (stumbleupon).
    I've book-marked it for later!

    my webpage; 918ki

    May 25, 2021 at 06:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. ZisseVed

    dose of cialis https://krocialis.com/ – how effective is cialis cialis pricing

    May 25, 2021 at 08:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. I1 Greatwall99

    Remarkable things here. I am very satisfied to look your post.
    Thank you so much and I am looking ahead to touch you. Will you
    please drop me a mail?

    Feel free to surf to my website ... I1 Greatwall99

    May 25, 2021 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Zisseloh

    review of cialis https://rcialisgl.com/ – is viagra better than cialis do you need a prescription to buy cialis

    May 26, 2021 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. EncoxDev

    pharmacy technician online courses free custom rx compounding pharmacy application for cvs pharmacy online

    May 26, 2021 at 17:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. MileSwa

    generic cialis quick shipping https://ckacialis.com/ – cialis pay with paypal generic vs brand name for cialis

    May 26, 2021 at 18:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. ZisseVed

    cialis pricing https://krocialis.com/ – cialis walmart real cialis

    May 27, 2021 at 05:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. EncoxHtf

    active ingredient cialis https://cialishav.com/ – best time to take cialis 5mg cialis generic prices

    May 27, 2021 at 11:12 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Reply to LebnEncox


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.