With great weather and holidays, picnics are in season. However, it’s also the season when more people become ill from foodborne bacteria. Why? Bacteria grow and multiply rapidly in the danger zone between 40° F and 140° F (out of the refrigerator or before food begins to cook). So, food transported without an ice source or left out in the sun at a picnic won’t stay safe for long. Family and friends who eat mishandled food may get what’s known as the “Summer Bug,” the flu-like symptoms caused by foodborne illness.
In the Kitchen…
- Wash hands, work area, and all utensils before, during, and after preparing food.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator.
- Do NOT thaw frozen items at room temperature.
Planning the Menu…
- Plan to take only the amounts of food you’ll use.
- Most foods are safe for short periods when stored with ice or frozen gel packs in a proper cooler.
- Creamy or custard foods and salads using store-bought mayonnaise are safe, if kept cold in a cooler.
- No partial or precooking ahead of time, cook completely at the picnic site.
- No cooler? Not a problem. Plan your menu using the following items:
- Hard cheese
- Canned/dried meats or fish
- Dry cereal
- Peanut Butter
Packing it Up…
- Always use an insulated cooler with a cold source, such as ice, frozen gel packs, or frozen foods.
- Pack cold food first, right from the refrigerator.
- Plan to keep hot foods hot with a thermos or insulated dish.
- Don’t forget to pack paper towels and a food thermometer.
Hitting the Road…
- When using a cooler keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. .
- Replenish ice or frozen gel packs if they start to melt.
Heat and Eat…
- Keep food cold until ready to cook.
- Cook meat and poultry thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures:
- Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3 minute rest time
- Ground meats: 160 °F
- Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
- Use a fresh, clean plate for serving cooked food.
- Don’t let raw meat juices touch other food.
- Use separate serving utensils for each food item
- Do Not eat ice that has come into contact with bottled beverages
- Use a scoop to handle consumable ice (not your hands)
Come and Get It…
- Place leftovers promptly in the cooler. Discard any persishable food left out for more than 2 hours.
- In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should not sit out for more than one hour.
- Serve small portions and keep the rest in the cooler.
- If there is still ice in the cooler when you get home, and the food did not sit out at the picnic, the food is still safe to store in the refrigerator.