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July 25, 2014
LITTLE ROCK -- Packing your own lunch to work often means a “healthier and less expensive
option,” said Serena Fuller, associate professor of nutrition for the University of
Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. However, it can also mean a risk of foodborne
illness if these foods aren't stored properly.
“These days more Americans are bringing their lunch to work,” she said, and we've
all been guilty of putting a cold meal in our workbag in the morning and forgetting
about it until lunchtime.”
When foods aren't refrigerated for extended periods of time, bacteria has a chance
to grow and multiply, increasing the risk of foodborne illnesses. Foods should never
sit out for more than two hours.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year 48 million
illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths in the United States can be
traced to foodborne pathogens.
Fuller offered few simple steps that can prevent foodborne illness and save a lot
of money to see the doctors.
Chill it, Clean it, Toss it
Immediately after arriving at work, refrigerate perishable foods, she said. These
include cooked meats and any salads made with mayonnaise or other foods that are vulnerable
to fast bacterial growth.
If refrigerator isn't available, foods need to be stored in an insulated bag with
frozen gel packs or frozen juice box.
Non-perishable, shelf-stable items such as whole fruits, chips, crackers, canned meat
and fish don’t need to stay cold.
If you prepare your food at work be sure to wash hands thoroughly before starting.
Clean any food preparation surfaces with warm soapy water before and after preparing
Toss any used packaging and paper bags. “Reusing packages can contaminate other food
and cause foodborne illness,” she said.
To learn more about food handling, visit www.uaex.uada.edu/life-skills-wellness/food-safety/handling/ or contact your county extension office.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all
eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age,
disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Kezia NandaFor the Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) firstname.lastname@example.org