Transporting your food - the dangers lurking in your lunch box

By Linda Jackson on 14 October 2019

Sitting in the aisle seat means you have a great view of what people are bringing onboard a plane. Aside from the oversized suitcases that are never going to get in that small overhead compartment (my pet peeve and a symptom that I fly too much), I was amazed to see the number of cooler bags.

Not the real insulated ones, those cloth ones with the shiny insides from the retailers. And inside I wonder? FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD.

Going on a trip. From Durban to Jhb, Cape Town to Jhb?

Is this really a good idea? Of course, the curry from the Suncoast is legendary but is it worth taking the risk to take that take away all the way home?

So why is this such a big deal? Well the law says that food should be transported at specific temperatures by food suppliers and manufacturers.

Hot food should be stored and transported at a minimum of 60oC. Cold food should be stored below 5 oC. The law also states that food may only be out of this temperature range for a maximum of 4 hours (previously this was 2 hours which is far safer for you)


So, what is the big deal? Well this is a well-researched topic of study around the world. If food is not cooked properly, some of these harmful micro-organisms may survive. Remember that cooked food could have been contaminated after cooking so there is a chance there are these harmful micro-organisms are present – even from great restaurants.

When food is stored outside of these required temperatures, there is a chance that harmful micro-organisms that can cause food born illness can multiply. In higher numbers, there is a possibility that you can become ill from that take-away.

This is why you should never transport food warm, it should be thoroughly chilled. And then your cooler box must keep it cold. You will need an ice pack and a cooler box with effective insulation. IF you do take the risk of transporting that curry after reading this article , make sure you re-heat it to VERY hot before eating it.

Best advice – have seconds in the restaurant and enjoy the experience rather than gambling with your health. Chances are you will blame your favourite restaurant if you do get that “stomach flu” and that is juts not fair. It was all YOU!