Germs lurking in children's lunch box says study

11th of September 2012
Germs lurking in children's lunch box says study

Mothers may earn top marks when it comes to teaching their children good hygiene practices but a study by Lysol and the Global Hygiene Council reveals they could do more to safeguard against bacteria hotspots in schools, especially at lunch time.

The 2012 Lysol Back to School Study surveyed 14,000 mothers of five- to 12-year-olds across 14 countries. Countries included in the study were Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, UK and USA.

The results revealed that parents need to continue to educate their kids about the importance of proper hygiene - particularly before mealtime. Thorough and regular hand washing with soap and warm water, and encouraging children to not put food directly on their desk or cafeteria table can help to protect children against many illnesses.

Improper storage of packed lunches can also cause foodborne illness, and many mothers admitted to not refrigerating their child's lunch afer preparation. And many do not clean and disinfect their child's lunch box daily.

"A lunch box is supposed to keep childrens' food safe but in some cases, the lunch box can do the exact opposite," said Dr Donald Low, microbiologist in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital. "If lunch boxes are not cleaned daily, small spills and crumbs can lead to bacteria growth and spread to ready-to-eat food, potentially causing children to get food poisoning."

Parents should also teach children about the importance of proper hygiene while eating lunch at school. In a second part of the Lysol Back to School Study, seven elementary schools in the United States were swabbed for bacteria to detect levels of contamination.

Results showed that 44 per cent of eating areas were contaminated. In contrast, the level of contamination in the washrooms was surprisingly low (three per cent), which is probably down to more vigilant cleaning regimes in school washrooms.



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