School lunch boxes tested for bacteria

5 tested lunch boxes show coliform, fecal bacteria

MIAMI - Is your child's lunch box a bacteria breeding ground? Do you clean it every night?

Local 10 wanted to find out just how clean and safe lunch boxes are.

Using a test kit provided by Kappa Laboratories, Local 10 swabbed the handles, bottoms, insides, and outsides of five school lunches boxes chosen at random.

Parents were intrigued.

"Do you think there is bacteria on that lunch box?" Local 10's Jeff Weinsier asked one parent.

"Now that you mentioned it, yes," she answered.

"I only wash them when I see them really dirty," she added.

"I'm afraid to find out what the results are," a third parent said.

Of the five lunch boxes tested, three had coliforms, two had fecal coliforms, and one had high levels of fecal bacteria.

"What the results show loud and clear is that number 3 looks like fecal contamination at a significant level, so someone didn't wash their hands," said Dr. Peter Kmieck of Kappa Laboratories.

Let's face it, some kids don't wash their hands at all; others don't do it properly.

Others students might put their lunch box down on the bathroom floor when they are using the restroom before or after lunch.

What was found on some of these lunch boxes could make your child sick.

"This is the most common cause of food borne illness, is hand to feces, hand to food contact," added Kmieck.

"What this tells me is that some children simply aren't washing their hands after using the restroom," said Dr. John Pisani, Chief of Microbiology for Micrim Labs.

"I'm surprised to see such a high level of fecal bacteria on this sample," added Pisani.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends cleaning a lunch box every day day with soap and water.

That includes the handles and ice packs you might have inside.

Some lunch boxes are dishwasher safe.

Many of those puffy lunch boxes or bags are air tight and insulated so germs can't multiply.

Of all the parent Local 10 talked to, only one said they washed or wiped their child's lunch box every day.

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