Keep Your Picnic Safe

Eating outdoors in warm weather increases the chance of food becoming unsafe to eat. Pack only what you need. This will lessen food waste since foods kept out for more than 2 hours (1 hour if 90°+F) should be tossed. Follow these tips to keep food safe:

  • Wash your hands and surfaces before, during, and after handling raw food items. Use paper towels to clean up spills.
  • Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw foods separated from cooked foods. Use separate cutting boards for meats and produce.
  • Check temperatures. Use a food thermometer to check the food’s temperature before serving. Watch the food thermometer video,
  • Keep cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled at 40°F or lower. Keep coolers filled with ice. Frozen bottles of water can serve as ice packs. Replace ice frequently if melted.
  • Keep hot foods hot. Keep hot foods hot at 140°F or higher. Wrap and cover foods and place in an insulated warming container until needed.

Learn more about ISU’s food safety programs,

Safe Food at Potlucks

Table of various foods

Potluck meals are a fun, low-cost way to celebrate the holidays with friends and family. They are also linked with the spread of foodborne illness. Follow these tips to keep food safe:

  • If you or someone in your home has “stomach flu” or symptoms of a foodborne illness, don’t prepare food.
  • Don’t mix salads, such as potato or a tossed lettuce salad, with your bare hands. Use utensils or wear gloves instead.
  • To keep cold foods cold (40°F or lower), remove items from the refrigerator just before leaving home and put them in a cooler with ice or a freezer gel pack. Remove hot food items from the oven or cooktop and place in containers such as insulated bags to keep foods hot (140°F or above).
  • To prevent cross-contamination, cover your car seat with a clean sheet or large towel before placing the food container on it and don’t transport food with animals in your car.