Back-to-School: Lesson #1

In time for Food Safety Education Month (September) and back-to-school, the USDA has issued back-to-school food safety tips focused on….hand washing.  Why is Lesson #1 Hand Washing? According to Dr. Mindy Brashears, USDA under secretary for food safety, USDA research has found that consumers fail to properly wash their hands 97% of the time.  “Washing hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent illness, including foodborne illness,” according to Dr. Brashears.

Be sure that everyone follows these steps:

  1. Wet hands with clean, warm running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of hands, between your fingers, and under nails.
  3. Scrub hands for at least 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands well under clean, warm running water.
  5. Dry hands using a clean towel or paper towel

Hand washing is important before and after handling food, including when packing school lunch.

Lunch packing tips

  • Keep cold things cold. If the lunch contains perishable food items like luncheon meats, eggs, cheese or yogurt, make sure to include a cold source, such as freezer packs or frozen juice boxes or water bottles.
  • Keep hot things hot. If packing a hot lunch, like soup, chili or stew, use an insulated container to keep it hot. Fill the container with boiling water, let stand for a few minutes, empty, and then put in the piping hot food. Tell children to keep the insulated container closed until lunchtime to keep the food at 140°F or above.

And remind everyone, especially younger children, to wash their hands before and after lunchtime. Stay food safe, Barb