Does Bacteria Grow on a Sandwich by Lunchtime?

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Does bacteria grow on a sandwich by lunchtime?


October 8th, 2010



Everyday, millions of people around the world are packing sandwiches for lunch, especially the students. “Cold cuts have become one of our culture’s favorite convenience foods. They seem to stay fresh forever in the fridge. Slap them on some bread, add mustard and maybe a sliver of lettuce and you’re done,” says Rosie Schwartz, a consulting dietitian and author, featured on Tralee Pearce website, Globe & Mail. With so many types of lunchmeat to choose from like ham, turkey, roast beef, and many more, the sandwich has been a staple for a lunchtime food for many decades, however, lunchmeats have the potential to cause food borne illness. For students, some of the sandwiches are left in their hot backpacks in lockers for many hours before eaten, and many students do not keep an ice pack near their sandwich to keep bacteria from growing on it. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40F and 140F(“Bacteria”). Do sandwiches get this hot when stuck inside a brown paper bag, deep below the books in a locker? Is the lunchmeat on sandwiches safe by the time it is eaten?

There are two major types of bacteria that form on lunchmeats and soft cheeses such as ham, American cheese, bologna, turkey. These bacteria are Listeriosis and Salmonella. Listeriosis is a type of bacteria that is caused by eating food that is contaminated by Listeria monocytongenes. The Listeria monocytogenes are found in the soil and the water, so they can also attach to animals such as cows or chickens, and the bacteria stays on the meat while it is processed and put on a sandwich. Listeriosis primarily affects pregnant women, people with bad immune systems, or people of old age (“CDC – Listeriosis”).

In 2008, a Listeriosis outbreak was traced back to a Maple Leaf foods processing plant in Toronto. A...