A study of school lunch box contents has been conducted with a view to establish whether their contents are nutritionally sufficient as well as whether they meet recommended food hygiene standards.
School employees who handle and prepare school dinners do, of course, have to undertake food safety training and comply with strict standards in the kitchen. Parents, on the other hand, do not, but they may feel that they are better able to provide a better meal than their school.
The findings of the study would suggest that this is a misconception. A public health nutritionist who analysed the contents of lunch boxes found that less than 10% complied with the standards required in school kitchens.
Worse results were discovered when the lunch boxes were tested for potentially harmful bacteria: 41% were found to be borderline or unsatisfactory, suggesting that home-prepared lunch boxes are not always prepared in hygienic conditions.
Bacteria found included E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which suggests poor personal hygiene and a lack of hand washing. The problem is worsened by the fact that lunch boxes are often kept at room temperature for hours, allowing potentially harmful bacteria to flourish. This news highlights the value of food safety training and makes school dinners seem a lot more appetising!