Safe Summer Picnics

It is Memorial Day and the unofficial start of summer. One of my favorite parts of summer is enjoying cooking and eating outside. Cooking and serving food outside can make things a bit more complicated. Unless the picnic is on the deck or patio right outside your door, take precautions to ensure that you are serving safe food.

If I do not have my refrigerator nearby, I always use an ice chest with plenty of ice in it. This keeps the meat, salads, and drinks cool and safe. I can then store the leftovers right after we finish eating. Packing plenty of paper plates allows me to use different plates for raw and cooked meat. It also eliminates the possibility of dripping juices onto other items in the picnic basket as I can toss those plates.

It is also a great idea to pack some wet wipes to clean my hands and any other surfaces that I need to set food on. Packing a few zipper bags can keep foods separate and reduce the chance of cross contamination.

The last but possibly most important thing to pack is the instant read meat thermometer. Use a thermometer every time you grill. Remember to cook poultry to 165°F, ground meats to 160°F, and steaks and roasts to a minimum of 145°F. Insert the stem into the center of the meat, avoid touching any bones, and insert the shaft of the thermometer past the dimple.

Enjoy your first picnic of the season and stay safe.

Liz Meimann

I received both my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Food Science at Iowa State University. I love to quilt, sew, cook, and bake. I spent many years gardening, canning, and preserving food for my family when my children were at home.

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