Kids lunchboxes pose a huge health hazard as one in five found to be contaminated with a food poisoning bug.

An investigation revealed school kids who carry popular fabric lunch bags are most at risk from infection as the material is difficult to keep clean, the Mirror reports.

According to tests on 15 lunchboxes at a primary school in Bath, Somerset, almost three quarters were mouldy leaving kids at risk of eczema, asthma, coughs and itchy eyes.

Serious Bugs

But worryingly, it was the presence of bug Staphylococcus Aureus in a fifth of the lunch containers that will cause the biggest concern for parents as it can cause food poisoning.

Normally found on skin, hair and in noses the bacteria can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, stomach pains and mild fever if food has touched dirty hands or surfaces or not been properly chilled.

Similarly Enterococci – a bacteria that is usually found in our bodies rather than on food – was detected in a fifth of lunchboxes and is another cause of food poisoning.

While Staphylococci is a common bug and carried harmlessly by around one in three people, the NHS warns that eating food contaminated with the bacteria can cause health problems and urges those preparing food to always wash hands with soap and water before handling it.

The research was carried out by makers of bug busting e-cloth and spokesman Laurence Smith said: “The high volumes of non food-borne bacteria suggests that we aren’t washing our hands before we pack or eat from our lunchboxes.

“It also shows that we aren’t cleaning them properly either, which is allowing mould to spore and bacteria to grow.

“They might look clean, with their shiny interior, and often, all we’ll do is shake out the crumbs but there is an underworld of invisible germs growing that we all need to be aware of.”

Experts say parents should clean fabric based lunch bags every day.

As Nikki from MoM says, “I’m guilty of the ‘shake it out’ tactic! But man, just ANOTHER thing to feel guilty about not doing.”

How do you ensure the kids’ lunchboxes are kept germ free?

Share your comments below.

Image via The Mirror

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  • Tin ones are awesome and can be cleaned in hot soapy water or the dishwasher


  • I always used the hard plastic ones so they went through my dishwasher and all bugs were swept away down the drain.


  • I use the good old solid plastic ones. So much easier to keep clean and germ free


  • Hmm spray and wipe will be used from now on! Whoops had no idea.


  • My kids mainly used the hard plastic lunch boxes and drink bottles. They have occasionally had the soft material ones and I used to put them through the washing machine every week


  • if your child is messy (as one of mine is) you end up cleaning it daily anyway.


  • I’m not surprised. Those lunchbags are a little tricky, and especially when child just pulls them out in the morning to be refilled etc. I wipe over with pine-o-cleen spray every now and then but admit, I should get better. Or teach my son to do it! Most food except for fruit is always wrapped or in a container that is washed in the dishwasher, but this has highlighted something I should keep across.


  • I clean them each time it is used also.


  • I wash the lunchboxes out every time they are used. I also keep them open when not in use. Can’t be too careful.


  • We use ‘bags’ with contains inside. I don’t have any special provision for monitoring germs, other than washing the ‘bags’ from time to time and the containers daily. I think things like apples pose a big problem because they are eaten with skin on, often by hands that have not been washed! They are also often thrown around a bag outside the lunchbox with no real protection…so yuck.. can only hope that the diet is good enough so that the ‘bad bacteria’ ingested don’t win over the ‘good bacteria’ that we need.


  • I wash them in warm soapy water and let dry


  • I throw them in the washing machine


  • Wash and clean just like standard lunch boxes.


  • I always submerge them in hot soapy water like you do the dishes. I then wash the inside with a cloth and the outside I give it a scrub with a non scratch scourer. Then leave it to dry on dish rack overnight.


  • I shake and do a quick wipe. Maybe I should start spraying and wiping daily!


  • I use a plastic lunch box for my daughter’s lunch and wash it every afternoon ready for the next day.


  • I think I’d take it more seriously if the research wasn’t done by people who sell a germ killing product.


  • I have a fabric lunchbox, but the food is put inside separate plastic boxes.


  • Wow this is so shocking I just wipe them feel so guilty now


  • We use a solid box, much easier to keep clean.


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