Allergy-friendly lunchboxes decrease health risk in primary school kids

4 February 2020

Children’s Health Queensland is urging families to keep food allergies in mind when packing healthy school lunches this year.

Children’s Health Queensland senior dietitian Kathy Beck said parents of primary school children should avoid adding foods and products containing nuts to their non-allergic child’s lunch boxes to minimise risk to children with nut allergies.

Peanut allergy occurs in approximately 2 per cent of children whilst allergy to cow’s milk is about 2 per cent and egg 1.2 per cent. Allergic reactions to peanuts and nuts posed the highest risk among food allergies and were more likely to result in serious allergic reactions including life-threatening anaphylaxis.

“Young children are messy eaters and can drop nut containing foods onto tables or chairs where allergic children may be eating,” Ms Beck said.

“Parents can include many other foods in their child’s lunch boxes. Muesli bars made with oats, seeds and berries can be used instead of those containing nuts, and olive oil and seed butters can be used instead of nut butters.

“If planning a birthday treat for your child consider other children in the class who may have food allergy by making an allergen-free cake or discussing options in advance with the teacher. Some teachers will have a “treat box” or safe cupcakes stored in a freezer in a labelled sealed container for students with food allergy. It is important that children with food allergies do not feel left out.

“If your child does have a food allergy, your school should be informed and provided with an up-to-date ASCIA action plan, including an EpiPen. You can also teach your children with allergies not to share lunches and not to accept food from other parents or teachers unless they know the food is safe.”

The following foods make for an allergy-friendly, nutritious and easy-to-prepare lunchbox:

  • Wholegrain wraps or sandwiches with protein and lots of colourful salads
  • Chicken, canned tuna, baked beans or hardboiled eggs
  • Homemade pasta salads loaded with vegetables
  • Homemade pizza made with low fat cheese and vegetables
  • Mini meatballs, pasta and cherry tomatoes
  • Ham, cheese and spinach pinwheels
  • Sushi or rice paper rolls
  • Fruit or vegetable-based muffins
  • Vegetables sticks with hummus, cream cheese or salsa
  • Corn cobs
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Yoghurt or custard
  • Fresh seasonal fruits – cut with a shape cutter to make more visually appealing
  • Wholegrain crackers or rice cakes, air-popped popcorn, pretzels or veggie straws
  • Nut-free muesli bars with a high amount of wholegrains (oats or barley) and minimal added sugars (aim for less than 10g sugar per bar).

For more healthy lunchbox ideas and recipes, see


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