Posted on 06/28/2011, by Jeremy Edsall
Summer Picnic Safety for the Family
Picnicking in the summertime is great fun for the entire family, especially if you are celebrating a special occasion. However, if picnic fare is not handled safely, you and your family could be susceptible to foodborne illnesses.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before handling food and utensils and make sure to use clean cooking tools as well.
- Unless you are planning to picnic the next day or are freezing food, do not prepare meals ahead of time to prevent bacteria growth.
- Cool mayonnaise-based foods immediately after preparing them. Though mayonnaise is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it, when mixed with other foods (especially those containing protein), bacteria will grow if the item is kept too warm.
- If you are going to cut up melons, keep them cool until you are ready to eat them. Fruits can also harvest bacteria and cause foodborne illnesses.
When getting ready to leave for an outdoor gathering, keep cold foods at 40° F, or colder in an insulted cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Then, place cold foods in water-proof containers or aluminum foil and immerse them in the ice inside of the cooler. This will prevent bacterial growth and will keep your foods tasting fresh. Do not place foods on top of the ice, as this will not properly insulate them and keep them cool.
Hot foods must be kept at 140° F, or hotter. To keep containers warm, wrap the item in a towel, followed by newspaper and then place it in a box. Once you arrive at your destination, place these items on a grill to keep them warm or eat them within an hour to prevent foodborne illnesses.
When cooking outdoors, always cook food thoroughly and at once. Do not partially cook food to finish later. This allows toxins, a harmful form of bacteria that is killed by way of cooking, to form. Also, cook meat until it is completely done by checking the inside temperature with a food thermometer. The juices from grilled poultry should also run clear and the inside of the meat should not be pink.
To ensure that your meal remains safe once it is cooked and on the table:
- Do not let food items sit out for more than one hour. Instead, pack up leftovers right after they are served in coolers and cover them with ice.
- While eating, keep foods covered so that insects carrying harmful bacteria do not land on the food and spread diseases to you and your family.
The trunk of your car can exceed temperatures of 150° F so it’s best to place coolers in the passenger area of your car. Once you have arrived at your destination, place coolers in the shade and keep them closed until you are ready to eat.
This is for informational purposes only and is not intended as professional advice. Content © 2008 Zywave, Inc.