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Lunch Boxes - To refridgerate or not to refridgerate, that is the ques


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Good Morning

We have several children starting with us this term who will only be accessing their funded hours and whose paremts have opted to bring their own food rather than have ours, that's all fine but it does leave us with a query about whether or not their lunchboxes need to be stored in the fridge. We have a policy that we will not heat food brought in from home as we do not know how it has been prepared / stored but now I'm worried that if sandwiches and yoghurts ect are in the lunchboxes on the children pegs from 8am-11.30 that we could run the risk of food not being safe to eat?

I know many moons ago I read something which said that chilled foods can be out of a fridge for 4 hours but I can't find clarity on the food standards agency or any other website.

I have contacted our local authority food safety team but they will take 3 days to respond so i just wondered if any of you well informed lovelies had any idea.

We have some space in our fridge but not enough for all the children who want to bring lunch boxes so I need to have a think about how we are going to manage this, unfortunatley space is also a premium so just buying another fridge is not really an option :(

Thanks in advance :)

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we had a packed lunch policy that we gave to all who stayed for lunch as we did not provide food.


It had a few guidelines on type of foods and a balanced lunch, including portion sizes, amounts and a few suggestions / ideas for variety.

We had a no chocolate/sweets policy as well as no nuts.. that saved us having to change it if we had someone with a nut allergy ..

also no frizzy drinks..

and that we did not reheat foods. these things we found needed spelling out clearly.

it also said they must have an ice block included, and we kept a few small ones in our fridge so we could check and add one if there was one missing from a lunch bag/box. If no ice block we would put a note in to remind parents of our policy. We also had a few small ones we kept to sell to parents for the ones who said they could not find a small one and the large ones were too big.. I also suggested freezing a small drink and putting that in there in hot weather as it would defrost and act as an ice block .

we decided that as schools often had them on pegs and on trolleys in the rooms that there was no need for us to think about refrigerating them, but rather help parents and get them into good habits before then.(one local school had them on a trolley in the window in front of a radiator!)

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I asked EH about this when we had a visit from them. She told us not to refrigerate - as once we do that we are accepting responsibility for storage, and as a we don't know what's happened to food before we get it this really is not a good idea.

She said it was up to parents to provide safe storage (ice packs etc)



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Chilled food can only be out of fridge for 30 mins before it starts to deteriorate

That is policy for our local supermarket, food for thought eh!


Seems ironic really that snack we provide eg cheese has to be stored in fridge along with milk

Food parents provide for lunch does not

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We do store in fridge (specially bought for purpose). Having worked in food environments for years it was always an issue for me when my children went to school that this was not the case there. I suspect that there is no legal recourse because the parents are providing the food and they should be ensuring it is fit to eat ...freezing drinks for ice packs is a good idea, having a thermal pack and popping in cold packs all help.

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parents told to provide ice packs at our setting. You have a look at the state of the lunch boxes a couple of weeks into term, you wouldn't want to put them anywhere near your fridge.

I have even had to put a healthy lunch in a 'clean' box in a newsletter before.

Also we have said no drinks this term. Not sure how it will go down. They are supposed to have water or diluted juice but never do. I also get fed up with leaking bottle and half empty cartons left on the trolley.

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Being a childminder I have always put chilled items into my refrigerator which I know is cold enough so I don't think I've left myself open to any risk there. To be honest, if by reducing the risk of a child dying from food poisoning, I slightly increase my own risk through taking responsibility for storing their food I am willing to do it.

I was told on a food hygiene course that chilled food must be consumed within 2 hours of removal from the fridge and, if lunches are made around 8.00am and eaten around 12.00 midday, that time is being doubled.

If I couldn't provide refrigerator space, I would ensure that all food was safely stored with ice-packs after arrival or stop the children eating anything like ham that hasn't been kept cool and could be dangerous. I would explain my actions to the parents on pick up and ask for ice packs to be included in the future.

I know the risk of food poisoning is small but the results for small children can be devastating.

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