Here are some tips from USDA:
- Perishable food must be refrigerated or stored with 2 ice packs. A frozen water bottle or other frozen drink can count as one of the ice packs, but it is recommended to do an ice source on the bottom and the top of the Bentgo itself. Store the lunch in an insulated bag to help keep it cold. (We have some of our favorite insulated bags in our Amazon shop too.)
- Perishable foods include meat, poultry, fish, eggs and most dairy. Cut up veggies and fruits should also be kept cold.
- According to USDA, foods that do not need refrigeration include: whole (uncut) veggies and fruits, hard cheese, canned meat or fish, chips, breads, crackers, PBJ, mustard and pickles. We do ice packs in our lunches no matter what just to be safe.
- Food should be kept out of the “temperature danger zone” (40-140F) as much as possible. It is not recommended to leave any perishable food out longer than 2 hours.
- If you pack lunch the night before, keep it in the fridge overnight and pack it with ice right before you leave for school the next day.
- It is not recommended to eat uneaten perishable foods that come home unless you can guarantee that it has been kept cold.
Don’t forget that these safety guidelines apply to any food out of the fridge, even snacks you send with your preschooler or diaper bag snacks.