Summer Picnic Safety

Summer and warm weather have arrived and it is time to start enjoying the outdoors!  What a better way than to go on a picnic!  Remember summer warmth provides the perfect environment for bacterial growth in foods if they are not handled safely!  Here are some tips to keep your picnic safe and enjoyable!

  • If your cooler is stored in a hot garage or attic be sure and bring it into the house to cool down before you use it. Your food will heat up quickly if it is put in a hot cooler!
  • Clean out your cooler. Wash the inside well with soap and water before using even if it was clean when you put it away last season.
  • Freeze ice in containers (like empty water bottles or sour cream containers) to use to keep your foods cold. A larger block of ice will take more time to melt than a bag of ice cubes. The goal is to keep your cooler as cold as if the food was being stored in your refrigerator.
  • Bring antibacterial disposable cloths and paper towels to use in case there isn’t a sink to wash hands before cooking and eating.
  • If you can, bring two coolers. Keep one for raw meats, poultry, and fish and a separate one for ready to eat foods. If you only have room for one cooler make sure that your meats are wrapped securely or put in zip lock bags to keep meat juices from contaminating foods that won’t be cooked.
  • Bring drinks in a separate cooler. Coolers that house drinks are opened more often and can make your foods warm up more quickly if stored together.
  • Bring along a meat thermometer. When cooking on a grill the outside of your meat may look done but the only safe way to tell is not by color, but by making sure it is cooked to the correct temperature.
  • Put your coolers in a shady spot when you arrive at your destination. If there isn’t going to be a shady spot bring a large umbrella to provide relief from the hot sun or wrap the cooler in blankets to keep them from warming up to quickly. If you are at a beach bury the cooler in the sand to provide natural insulation.

Follow these tips and enjoy the outdoors knowing that the food that you are eating on your picnic will be safe to consume!

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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