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Keep your kids safe, prevent foodborne illnesses this school year

(WVVA) - Parents are worried about their kids contracting a Coronavirus infection in school this year, but if they don't take the right precautions when making their lunches, they could accidentally send a foodborne illness in their child's lunch box. The USDA offers recommendations to prevent it.

"Keep everything clean, food surfaces clean and wash your hands constantly. Bring hand sanitizers with you if you don't have soap and water. Pack gel hand sanitizers in your kids lunch. Separate any raw meat from cooked foods so you can avoid contamination. Cook food to the right temperature with a thermometer, and then chill it properly," Technical Information Specialist, and Project Coordinator with Food Safety and Inspection Service at the USA, Maribel Alonso, M.S. said.

Foodborne illnesses grow out of bacteria like salmonella, e-coli and listeria. Offering a variety of options that don't require refrigeration reduces food poisoning risks.

"Vegetables, or maybe some options that don't involve refrigeration like peanut butter, and jelly sandwiches. If you are going to pack perishable food that needs to be refrigerated, make sure to use an insulated bag because those will keep a safe temperature for a little longer. A frozen ice pack, juice pack, or water will also keep it cold until they are ready to eat," Alonso described.

There are things parents should keep in mind when lunch will be provided by the school. Alonso said the CDC recommends parents keep communication with their child's school to make sure they are following proper guidelines with prepared meals. How deadly is food poisoning? Alonso revealed that it kills, 3000 people every year, and recovery can take time for those suffering.

"Some people can recover very quickly, and some people can take days, and some people can end up in the hospital," she said.

Parents should also keep in mind the symptoms for COVID-19, and food poisoning closely resemble each other.

"You may show some symptoms that are similar to COVID-19. If you're feeling sick for whatever reason and you aren't sure what the reason is, make sure to contact your doctor right away," Alonso said.

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