May is Safety and Care month on The Daily Tiffin, so I wanted to share some pointers on keeping our packed lunches safe from spoiling. In my reading, the most interesting thing I found was modern research on foods with naturally antibacterial properties, which starts to explain traditional wisdom about food spoilage around the world. There are four main methods to keep your packed lunch safe:
There are a number of bento products in Japan that have been treated with an antibacterial coating (i.e. flavorless compounds extracted from wasabi, etc.), designed to stave off microbial growth in packed lunches. These include aluminum food cups for cooking, plastic sheets that you place on the surface of your packed food, and food dividers that look like sushi grass. These must be touching the surface of the food to be effective. Not all food dividers and food cups are antibacterial; they must be marked "antibacterial". I bought the products below at local dollar stores and markets in San Francisco; click the photos for larger views with the "antibacterial" character indicated.
Antibacterial food dividers and bento sheets:
1) 1998 Cornell study on antibacterial spices: http://www.news.cornell.edu/Chronicle/98/3.5.98/spices.html
2) Cilantro article: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-05/acs-is052404.php
3) CookWise, Shirley O. Corriher, 1997.
4) The New Professional Chef, Culinary Institute of America
5) USDA lunch food safety guidelines: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/ftteats.html#lunch
6) USDA Freezing/Refrigerating time chart: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fttstore.html
7) Aijo Tappuri! Obento, Shufu no Tomo, 2007.
8) Obento Daijiten, Index Magazine, 2005.
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This Post was written by Biggie from Lunch in a Box.