One of the biggest pitfalls when packing a lunch is cross-contamination—the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from cutting boards, utensils, and other foods.

The number one rule to prevent cross-contamination is to keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and their juices, strictly separated from cooked and ready-to-eat foods.

  • Clean the food-prep area: Wash countertops, cutting boards, dishes, and utensils with soap and water before and after handling each food.
  • Opt for different-colored cutting boards to separate meat and poultry from ready-to-eat foods like fruits, vegetables, and cheeses.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that food has reached a safe internal temperature. Be aware that some frozen foods have browned breading, grill marks, or other signs that suggest that they are fully cooked—when, actually, they are not.
  • Choose insulated lunch boxes, containers, and ice packs.
  • Pack disposable hand wipes or a small bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Follow these simple steps to ensure your midday meal doesn’t result in a foodborne illness.

Get more food facts at ift.org/foodfacts.

In This Article

  1. Food Safety and Defense

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