Keep Your Picnic Safe

Reviewed by Wendy Marcason, RDN
family picnic

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Tips for a Safe Picnic

The sunny days of summer bring hot temperatures and outdoor gatherings. It's also a time of increased risk of food poisoning.

While most Americans realize that May through September poses the biggest threat of food poisoning, a recent survey* conducted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics shows that consumers are not practicing correct outdoor food safety procedures.

So, before you pack the picnic basket, remember these simple tips to ensure that unwanted bacteria won't have a place at your table.

Wash Hands Often

Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often. Also, make sure your cooler is clean.

Keep Raw Meats, Poultry, Seafood and Eggs and Ready-to-Eat Foods Separate

  • Bring extra plates — one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination.
  • Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
  • Don't reuse marinade used on raw meat or poultry unless boiled.
  • Properly packing a cooler can help reduce cross-contamination that might lead to food poisoning.

Cook to Proper Temperatures

  • Cook your favorite foods to the right temperature by using a food thermometer; hamburger to at least 160°F and chicken breasts to 165°F.
  • Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.

Refrigerate Promptly below 40°F

  • Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep temperature below 40°F.
  • Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk.
  • Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.
  • Defrost meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator before taking them to the grill.
  • Don't leave food outside in hot weather (90°F or above) for more than one hour.

*2011 Consumer Knowledge of Home Food Safety Practices

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