Food Safety Tips for Outdoor Summer Eating

When transporting food to your picnic, keep in mind the following:

  • Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another.
  • Keep raw meat, seafood, and poultry securely wrapped so their juices don’t contaminate cooked foods or foods eaten raw such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water before packing them. Rub firm-skin fruits and vegetables under water while scrubbing with a vegetable brush. Dry freshly cleaned fruits and vegetables with a paper towel.
  • When traveling, keep coolers in an air-conditioned area of your car instead of in a hot trunk. Limit the amount of times the cooler is opened.
  • Keep cold foods cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice packs and keep at or below 40°F.

Cooking outdoors on a barbecue grill is another classic summer activity many people enjoy. It’s an opportunity to get together, have fun, and eat good food. There are some safety tips to keep in mind when working over a grill in the summer heat.

Note: Before cooking outdoors remember to wash your hands! You can use moist towelettes or a water jug, some soap, and paper towels.

While you are cooking, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Keep all utensils and plates clean when preparing food.
  • Wash your hands after touching raw meat!
  • Use utensils to handle cooked meat.
  • Do not put cooked meat on surfaces that had raw meat.
  • Insert the meat thermometer into the center of the meat to check the temperature to ensure meats are fully cooked. To check hot dogs, go from the end of the hot dog to the center. Make sure you don’t pass the thermometer through the meat and touch the cooking surface or you will get a false high temperature.

When serving food outdoors:

  • Remove all charred or burnt portions of food before eating.
  • Serve the first cooked meats first. Make sure the food is used before the temperature drops under 140°F and within 2 hours.
  • Hot foods should be kept at or above 140°F. Wrap well and place in an insulated container.
  • Cold foods should be placed on ice and kept chilled at or below 40°F.
  • Foods like chicken salad and desserts can be placed directly on ice or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice often.
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours. On hot summer days (temperatures above 90 ° F), limit this to 1 hour.
  • Do not re-use plates that previously had raw meats on them, unless the plate has been thoroughly washed with hot, soapy water.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before serving. Use a utensil when serving food.

More Tips…

  • Keep garbage cans covered to keep flies away. Throw away meat wrappers, dirty plates and trash immediately.
  • Do not use fly spray or fly paper. They can contaminate the food.
  • Keep all food out of the sun; place in the shade.
  • Keep plates, cups, utensils and food covered until ready to use.
  • Do not touch plates and cups where food will be placed. Use cup handles, plate rims and bottom of plates.
  • Keep long hair tied back or wear a hat to avoid hair falling into food.
  • Have plenty of paper towel for cleaning hands, work surfaces and your picnic table.

It is important to keep your friends, family and yourself safe from the health risks that come along with food preparation, transportation, and the serving of food. Following these food safety recommendations greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses so you can be sure to have a happy, healthy picnic.

By Papa

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