Teens Talk About Food Safety: School Lunches and After School Snacks
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service Food Safety at home
podcast series. These podcasts were designed with you in mind - the consumer - who
purchases and prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products
for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging from safe storage, handling,
and preparation of meat, poultry and processed egg products to the importance of keeping
foods safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to "Food Safety at Home." This is Gertie Hurley with the Food Safety and Inspection
Service. I am your host for this segment. With me today are two students, Grace Gioglio
and Corinne Reardon. Grace and Corinne will talk about how to Be Food Safe when preparing
lunches and snacks. Hello, Grace. Hi, Corinne.
How are you all doing?
Grace and Corinne:
OK, young ladies. Since you are students, Iíd like to ask you if you take your lunch to
Yes, I actually like to take my own lunch to school. This way, I have just what I want
to eat. And my mom makes sure that I make healthy and safe food choices.
My mom does the same thing, she says, "Safe lunches are important. You have to eat healthy
and be food safe when making your lunch."
Do you think about food safety when packing your lunch?
Being food safe is definitely the way to go! There are four things I keep in mind: Clean,
Separate, Cook and Chill. It plays in my head like the Be Food Safe hit CD.
Yes, that Be Food Safe song is catchy. It also reminds us that Clean, Separate, Cook,
and Chill helps you to be food safe! I start with Clean all the time. That means clean
hands are at the top of my list for being food safe.
I wash my hands with warm soapy water for at least twenty seconds before doing anything
like handling food or preparing my lunch. I sing my usual ďHappy BirthdayĒ song twice.
Thatís just the right amount of time to make sure my hands are clean. I also wash my hands
after I come in from outside, touch pets, or use the bathroom.
Thatís good, Corinne. I make sure that the kitchen counters are clean. I wash the counters
and other surfaces in the kitchen where we prepare food, and also the utensils with hot,
soapy water before making my lunch. I use rubber gloves when washing things with hot water
so I don't burn my fingers. Younger kids, it's a good idea to ask an adult to help you
when using hot water.
Yeah. Cleanliness is the key. I also clean my insulated lunch bag with hot soapy water
before and after each use. After all my prep work, Iím ready to start making my lunch.
The next tip is Separate. "Separate so you donít cross-contaminate!" Itís important to
make sure that raw food or food that has to be cooked doesnít come in contact with ready-to-eat
food. I check to make sure that leftovers and cooked food donít touch the raw food on
the counter to prevent cross-contamination.
Youíre right, Grace. Letís talk about Cook. How I cook is very important to making sure
food is safe to eat. If I take hot food in an insulated bag, I have to cook it first until
itís safe. The best and safest way to make sure food is cooked to a safe temperature is
to use a food thermometer. I finally got the hang of using a thermometer. Itís not difficult
Yeah, it's best to be food safe. When food reaches a safe minimum temperature, bacteria
that may be lurking around are destroyed. Knowing the safe minimum internal temperature
of different foods is important.
I reheat soup or stew in the microwave until it reaches a safe internal temperature. But
younger kids, be sure and ask an adult for help on how to check the temperature of the
food with a food thermometer when cooking in the microwave.
That's right. When reheating food, make sure that the food reaches a safe minimum internal
temperature of 165 įF. I pack hot foods like soup and chili in well-insulated, tightly
sealed containers until I am ready to eat them. I keep hot food hot - at 140 įF or above.
How about packing a lunch that doesnít need to be heated?
That brings us to Chill. I keep cold food cold at 40 įF or below. I put freezer gel packs
in my insulated lunch bag to keep foods cold until lunchtime. I freeze single-sized juice
packs in the fridge overnight to keep lunches cold. The juice thaws by the time Iím ready
for my lunch.
When I make sandwiches ahead of time, I put them in the refrigerator or freezer before
putting them in my insulated lunch bag. That helps them stay cold longer. At school, I'm
careful to keep my lunch out of direct sunlight and away from radiators or other heaters.
Bacteria have good chance of growing when the temperature is above 40 degrees. Perishable
food like meat, poultry, or egg sandwiches that I don't eat at lunchtime get tossed real
fast. I don't want any bad bacteria guys having a party in my stomach.
One day I wanted to make sure that my lunch was safely chilled. So, I used a refrigerator
thermometer to see the temperature of my lunch bag when I was ready to eat lunch. You
can find all kinds of thermometers at most grocery stores. Now I can keep accurate tabs
on the temperature in my lunch bag.
Way to go, Grace. I have one final thing. Everybody, listen up! Before you eat your delicious
hand-packed lunch, remember to wash your hands. In a hurry? Use a moist towelette or hand
sanitizer before you take a bite into that yummy sandwich!
Yeah. Actually, before you zip up that lunch bag, why not toss in a few moist towelettes?
You'll have a smile and those bad, nasty bacteria won't.
Thatís very good advice, Grace and Corinne! You certainly know how to be food safe when
making school lunches.
What about when you prepare snacks after school?
Well, it is important to follow the same steps when preparing snacks after school Ė Clean,
Separate, Cook and Chill Ė these messages apply anytime.
Yep. Wash hands. Keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. If cooking or reheating your
snacks, use a food thermometer to make sure itís safe. And refrigerate cooked food within
2 hours and make sure your refrigerator is 40 įF or below.
Yes, you both get an A+ for always thinking Be Food Safe whether preparing school lunches
or snacks. Great job, young ladies!
Thatís it for this segment. I have been joined today by two students, Grace Gioglio and
Corinne Reardon. I am Gertie Hurley. Iíd like to thank you for joining us for "Teens Talk About Food Safety"
on this episode of "Food Safety at Home." And remember, Be Food Safe.
Well, thatís all for this time. Thanks for joining us today for another episode of
food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free meat and poultry hotline
at 1-888-mphotline. Thatís 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from our virtual representative
"ask karen" at www.askkaren.gov .
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your comments to
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: October 7, 20088