DEAR TEACHER – by Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts Helping all parents make their children’s educational experience as successful as possible ond rule,” that any food that touches the floor for any amount of time needs to be thrown away. 4) Toss perishable food. To avoid foodborne illnesses, tell your children to throw away perishables like meat, poultry or egg sandwiches if not eaten. 5) Make sure lunch boxes are regu- larly cleaned and sanitized. 6) Teach them the following Food Safety Tips for School Cafeteria Lunches: The Secrets of Safe School Lunches Q uestion: What are the basics for kids having a safe school lunch? What should parents be doing as well as kids? — For Good Health Answer: This is a great question, because September is National Food Safety Education Month. And accord- ing to STOP Foodborne Illness — a national nonprofit public hea lth orga- nization dedicated to the prevention of illness and death — you should follow these suggestions for packing your chil- dren’s lunches to prevent foodborne ill- nesses: 1) Keep in mind the bacteria danger zone. Bacteria grow rapidly in the zone of 40-140 F. 2) Wash your hands. When prepar- ing lunches, STOP Food- borne Illness stresses the importance of washing your hands thoroughly and keeping all surfaces clean. 3) Use an insulat- ed lunch box. Whether hard-sided or soft, this helps keep your child’s food out of the “danger zone.” 4) Use ice packs. This is another inexpensive “must have” item, accord- ing to STOP Foodborne Illness, that is 38 WNY Family September 2018 vital for keeping cold foods cold. 5) Use an insulated thermos. 6) Freeze drinks before packing. Frozen milk, juice boxes, and water bottles keep the drinks cold, along with other cold foods you’ve packed. Frozen items put in the lunch box will be drink- able by lunchtime. 7) Pack hot foods while hot. Don’t wait for hot foods to cool down before pouring into an insulated thermos. Pre- heat your thermos by filling it with boil- ing water and letting it sit for a few min- utes, then pour out the water and add your hot food. 8) Wash and separate fresh fruits and veggies. 9) Use individual snack packs. 10) Add room-temperature-safe foods. Talk with your children about things they should do at school to prevent foodborne illnesses: 1) Encour- age them to wash their hands before and after eat- ing. 2) Avoid putting food on tables. Pack a paper towel or some wax paper that your children can use to put on the table and then place their food on it. 3) Explain the 5-second myth. Be sure your children know the real “5 sec- Checking for undercooked food. For instance, if hamburger meat looks bloody, they should not eat it, or any hot food that is cold. Checking for food that looks spoiled. Your child shouldn’t eat vegetables that are wilting, have mold, or look discolored. Reporting unsanitary conditions. Examples include: cafeteria workers without hairnets, sur- faces or equipment that are dirty, yellowish water flowing from a water fountain, and bugs or ro- dents roaming around. If your child sees these kind of condi- tions, they should report it to a school authority immediately. Inspect the cafeteria yourself. STOP Foodborne Illness urges parents to make a personal visit to their children’s school and take a good look around the kitchen. Anything that looks like a pos- sible food safety hazard should be reported to authorities.