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Kids lunch boxes

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Young children are more at risk from food poisoning because their bodies and natural immune defences are not fully developed.

Parents and caregivers can help protect kids by following some simple tips to keep kid’s lunch boxes safe.

Lunch box science

Interested in the science behind safe lunch boxes? The Food Authority’s scientists are investigating lunch box safety by using information from a recent survey which asked about the food that kids take to school for lunch, and how it’s being stored. 

We’ll compare the results with our first lunch box investigation and share them with you.

To find out the results, keep an eye on Lunch boxes survey 2023, or follow us on social media.

Keep lunches cool

The bugs that cause food poisoning grow quickly between 5oC and 60oC so it’s important to keep lunch boxes cool.

  • Use insulated lunch boxes or cooler bags
  • Pack a frozen drink bottle or freezer brick inside the lunch box or bag, next to foods that should be kept cold, for example cheeses, yoghurts, meats and salads
  • Freeze water bottles half filled, then top up with cold water before school so there's liquid to drink
  • If making lunches ahead of time, keep them in the fridge until leaving for school or freeze them in advance. Foods that freeze well include bread, cooked meat, cheese or Vegemite™
  • Ask children to keep packed lunches in their school bag and to keep their bag out of direct sunlight and away from heat, ideally in a cool, dark place such as a locker
  • See also special care foods.

Other tips for safe lunches


Check with the teacher to see if there are any school rules about foods containing allergens.

See our web page for information on allergy and intolerance.


Thoroughly wash and dry lunch boxes and drink bottles daily.

Throw away any containers that are cracked or broken.

Follow hygienic food preparation methods. This is especially important when food will be stored in the lunch box for many hours before eating. See our web page for more tips on cleaning and hygiene.

General food safety

For all food remember the key food safety tips.

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