How to avoid food poisoning at your picnic

May 16, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Life

Is there anything better than picnicking on a sunny spring day? Or enjoying an outdoor evening meal on a warm summer night?

It’s one of the best parts of the season—unless it ends with someone getting sick from food poisoning.

Some pre-cookout prep and smart food handling can prevent a lot of problems.

  • Get a cooler. If your menu includes perishable food such as meat or dairy products, you’re going to need a cooler (better yet, get two; one for beverages and one for perishable food). Put a lot of ice in your cooler. If you’re driving to a picnic location, keep it in your air-conditioned vehicle (not the trunk). Try to keep the cooler closed most of the time once you’re there, to keep the contents cold longer.
  • Keep raw meat in tightly-sealed packages. Also, be sure to thaw frozen meat in the refrigerator overnight. Don’t leave it out on the kitchen counter to thaw as the meat could defrost too quickly, giving bacteria time to grow.
  • Wash your hands. Find out if your picnic location will have running water. If so, bring hand soap. If not, bring anti-bacterial hand wipes. Wash your hands before and after cooking.
  • Bring extra plates, utensils and food storage containers. Don’t use the same plate to serve your burgers that you used to hold the raw burger patties before they were cooked. The same goes for utensils – don’t use the same spatula to serve your meat that you used to flip the raw patties. Pack any leftovers in the containers and put them back in your cooler.
  • Use a food thermometer. Make sure hamburgers are heated to at least 160°F and chicken breasts to 165°F.
  • Don’t leave food out for more than an hour. If it’s cooler than 90 degrees outside, food can stay out for two hours. Keep an eye on the time, and put perishable food (mayo, meat and any dairy) back in your cooler before it gets too warm and put them in the fridge as soon as you get home.

Enjoy this summer season! What are some of your favorite picnic foods? Share them in the comments!

Blog reviewed by Toni Havala, MS, RDN.

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