Ensure Your Summer Picnics Are Food Safe - Eat Smart Be Well

Ensure Your Summer Picnics Are Food Safe

There is almost no better way to enjoy the beautiful summer months than being outside – at the park, the beach, or even at a BBQ in the backyard. With hot summer days come gatherings and picnics outside. Ensure your summer picnics are food safe. As food heats up in the summer temperatures, bacteria can multiply rapidly. Utilizing safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical in protecting yourself, your family and friends from foodborne illnesses.

Here are some tips:

1. Plan ahead:

This will ensure you don’t forget essential items. Be sure to pack a food thermometer, cooler chest with ice, clean utensils, trash bags, paper towels, hand soap, etc. if you are going to be picnicking away from home.

2. Keep cold food cold!

Place cold food in cooler with ice packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth.

3. Consider packing multiple coolers –

one for beverages, one for perishable foods. That way while picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to the warm temperatures outdoors.

4. Don’t leave food out in the direct sunlight.

Keep your coolers and buffet line in the shade. Serve food quickly from the cooler and return it fast.

5. Clean all your produce

before packing for the picnic.

6. Cook all meat to a safe internal temperature,

measured with your food thermometer. Use this guide below:

Minimum Internal Cooking Temperatures for Meat  
Steaks and Roasts 145°F
Fish 145°F
Pork 145°F
Ground Beef/Hamburger 160°F
Chicken 165°F

7. Reminder –

don’t reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meats.

8. Don’t forget to wash your hands

if you are involved with food prep. If you don’t have running water, use a jug of water, some soap, and paper towels or a moist towelette.

Keeping foods at the proper temperature outdoors is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is to never let your food fall into the Temperature Danger Zone, between 40°F and 140°F, for more than two hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperatures are above 90°F.

Follow these simple rules for keeping cold food cold and hot food hot.

Cold Food

• Keep cold food in a cooler at 40°F or below until serving time.
• Once served, it should sit out for no longer than two hours, one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.
• Individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice, to help keep the product chilled.

Hot Foods

• Hot foods should be kept hot, at or above 140°F.
• Same as with cold food – food should not sit out for more than two hours, or one hour if temperatures are above 90°F.
Happy, safe, picnicking!