Here we go. Get ready for the feds to start regulating the sack lunch. The Orange County Register reports:
A study to be published in the September issue of Pediatrics found that 98 percent of perishable food in sack lunches reached unsafe temperatures – sometimes hours before they were to be consumed. A team from the University of Texas examined 700 packed lunches. The lunches were made for kids from 3 to 5 years old who attended daycare.
The finding: Food was not packed to stay cold enough or, in some cases, hot enough, to prevent bacteria from growing.
The study by Fawaz Almansour, a doctoral student at the University of Texas in Austin, showed that about 88 percent of the lunches were not kept in a refrigerator. Of those, 39 percent had no ice packs. About 45 percent had at least one ice pack.
“The vast majority of lunches were clearly out of a safe range, but it’s hard to know what the true biological impact of that is. We don’t truly know how often this results in a foodborne illness,” Dr. Michael Green, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh told USA Today. “This paper raises a lot of questions, but isn’t able to provide a lot of solutions.”
But is it really hard to figure out the “true biological impact” of these room temperature lunch sacks?” While the researchers release the shocking statistics that 98 percent of perishable food in sack lunches reached unsafe temperatures they don’t follow through with details of how many children in day care facilities suffer from food poisoning. Day cares are required by the Food and Drug Administration to report symptoms of food poisoning.
The research was conducted at the University of Texas, Austin. Ostensibly, the day care centers were in also in Austin. Would it have been so hard to look at the reports of food poisoning in Austin day care centers? And since food poisoning and sickness caused by fecal contamination (diaper changes are a messy business) have similar characteristics, not all of these “sicknesses” could be attributed to contaminated food.
Their omission makes me think there really isn’t a story here at all. In other words, there isn’t some massive outbreak of sickness from these “dangerous” home-packed meals. But that won’t really matter to those eager Washington bureaucrats looking for any reason to regulate what your kids are eating. Can’t you just see these paper-pushers giving each other high fives as they scream “Hooray! We finally have the research we need to ban home-packed lunches for good!” And don’t think it isn’t happening. In many Chicago schools, kids are banned from bringing sack lunches because the school simply knows better how to feed kids.
I predict in time we’ll see some rider on a farm bill or tucked into some education funding bill that requires parents to pack their kids’ lunches in some sort of government approved cooler (how about the government start providing mini-fridges for each child). The rider would of course include a clause banning brown paper bags, small canvas sacks, and metal lunch boxes. But don’t worry, if you can’t afford the proper storage container for your child’s lunch, the government will provide your child a cafeteria meal.
And this is really the point right? Parents should just give up. They can’t really be trusted to provide their children a healthy, bacteria-free meal right? They should just turn this monumental responsibility over to the feds who are much better equipped to secure healthy food for your child.
The sad fact is that Washington sees the solution to childhood obesity not in parents being more involved in their children’s nutrition but rather in more children receiving a government-provided meal. Since Obama took office, more children than ever are participating in school feeding programs. The USDA has expanded the program to include not only breakfast and lunch but now dinner in all 50 states. Some schools even provide summer feeding programs. More Americans than ever are using food stamps and other government food programs.
This is creating a whole generation of children who see the government-not their parents-as the primary provider of food.