Summer Picnic Food Safety Tips

July 3, 2013

This post was written by Tiana Yom

Summer is here and that means it is time for eating outdoors – picnics, pool-side dining, and eating at the beach are all fun this time of year! In fact, a couple of weeks ago people everywhere celebrated International Picnic Day!

It’s so enjoyable to lay out a blanket and sit on the grass enjoying seasonal food, but it’s very important to think about food safety when packing up for a picnic.

First things first: get a cooler. For a worry-free picnic, place perishable foods, such as hot dogs, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, and macaroni or potato salads in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or freezer gel packs. They need to be kept cold.

If you’re going to be cooking at the picnic site, be sure to wash your hands before preparing any food.  Use disposable wet wipes or hand sanitizer to clean your hands before and after touching food. At the picnic site, keep the cooler in the shade. Serve food quickly and return it to the cooler fast. In hot weather (above 90°F), food shouldn’t sit out of the cooler over an hour. Commonly cooked meats at a picnic are hamburgers, hot dogs, and chicken. Use a food thermometer to cook meat and poultry to safe temperatures – for hamburgers (beef, pork, veal, and/ lamb) 160°F and for turkey burgers, chicken, and hot dogs 165°F.

Here are 4 quick tips to ensure a great and safe picnic experience:

  1. Keep coolers closed at all times.
  2. Do not cross-contaminate. Don’t reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, and/or seafood.
  3. Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruit and vegetables, including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten.
  4. Cold food needs to be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth.

For more information about outdoor food safety, visit FDA Resources for Handling Food Outdoors.

If you’re cooking ahead, make dishes that can serve large groups and have a balance of nutrients, including protein and fiber! Here are some Nutritioulicious picnic recipe ideas:

For more on-the-go summer snack options, check out Jessica’s tips in this Real Beauty article.

What are your favorite dishes to bring to a picnic?

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