Summer is the perfect time for a picnic outdoors with friends or family. It promotes togetherness and provides a great opportunity to practice healthy habits. This warm weather, however, is also the perfect environment for bacteria to grow in, making food safety even more important.
So, if you’re planning a picnic this summer, be sure to follow these simple food safety tips to make sure you, your family and friends are protected from foodborne illness.
1. Wash hands before eating
It’s a good idea to pack hand sanitizer or wipes in case there isn’t a restroom available.
2. Wash all produce
Rinse all fresh fruits and vegetables before packing them–even produce with skin and rinds!
3. Avoid the danger zone
An important tip to note is to always keep cold food cold and hot food hot. This means cold food should be below 40 degrees and hot food should be above 140 degrees. Foods that are in the “danger zone” (40 degrees-140 degrees) for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour when the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees) should be thrown away immediately.
- Keep cold food cold: Always keep your cooler in the shade and layer food in cooler with ice or ice packs.
- Keep hot food hot: Use thermal bags or aluminum containers to keep hot food insulated.
4. Prevent cross contamination
If you plan to grill during you picnic, it’s important to keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat-foods at all times. Also, avoid reusing plates and utensils that come in contact with raw meat to prevent cross contamination of bacteria.
5. Minimize perishable items
Pack food items such as fruit, vegetables, peanut butter sandwiches, crackers and trail mix. These foods are less likely to put you at risk for foodborne illness.
A little extra effort for food safety is well worth it, and will assure that everyone has a happy, safe summer!
By Amanda Apostolo
Intern, Tarrant Area Food Bank