Whether camping, going to the beach or park for the day, or just hanging out in your own backyard, picnics are a fun way to enjoy eating outdoors. Unfortunately, summer weather also creates the perfect opportunity bacteria to grow on foods that arenít handled properly.
To help protect your family from food borne illness, practice the following safe-food handling tips:
Put perishable foods such as hot dogs, cut fruits and salads in individual containers and place on the bottom of the cooler with ice packs on top. This provides the best insulation for foods that need to remain cool and helps prevent cross contamination.
Transport uncooked meats in a separate cooler from ready-to-eat foods.
By placing sodas, bottled water and other drinks in a separate cooler, youíll avoid frequent opening of the cooler containing perishable foods.
Keeping the cooler in the passenger area instead of in the trunk allows the air conditioning to help keep the contents cool.
If you plan on making a dish that contains a homemade salad dressing or mayonnaise, use pasteurized eggs or egg products to make these items. Food items containing properly prepared homemade or store-bought mayonnaise need to be kept cold until just before serving.
Bacteria can be present on the exterior of melons and can be carried into the edible section when cutting it.
Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Be sure to reheat pre-cooked foods to at least 165º F before serving.
Donít consume perishable foods that have been sitting out beyond an hour on days where the temperature is over 90º F. On cooler days, perishable foods should be returned to the cooler or discarded if not eaten within two hours.
Since most picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than 1 – 2 hours and have had many people handling them, throw them out. The longer that food has sat at unsafe temperatures, the more likely harmful bacteria have grown.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before eating or handling food. If thereís no source of clean water, bring soap, water and paper.