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Food Safety Focus (96th Issue, July 2014) – Food Incident Highlight

Keep School Lunches Safe

Last month, a suspected food poisoning case was reported where 93 persons developed diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea and fever after having lunch in school. Review of the production process showed that the school lunch provided by the caterer had been kept under inadequate temperature.

Foods for school lunches are usually prepared in bulk by food factories and kept in insulated containers or lunch boxes before serve. Failure to adequately control the holding temperature allows the growth of bacteria and toxin production. To keep harmful microorganisms at bay, hot food should be kept at above 60oC and cold food at 4oC or below. Members of the trade are advised to observe good personal and environmental hygiene, and follow the Five Keys to Food Safety when preparing lunch boxes. Food handlers having symptoms such as fever, diarrhoea and vomiting should not handle food. Management of schools can make reference to the "Guidelines on How to Ensure School Lunches Ordered Are Safe" prepared by the Centre for Food Safety when selecting lunch suppliers.