7 Tips To Keep Your Picnic Food Safe
With warmer weather upon us, the invitations for summer holiday parties, graduation parties, and family gatherings are right around the corner. What does that mean? It is the start of picnic season. Many people will be heading outdoors to spend time with their family and friends, and of course, enjoy their favorite outdoor fare. However, we’re not the only ones who like warmer weather. Higher temperatures can provide the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive, especially in food. So how do you keep your picnic food safe? We’ve put together some top tips for picnic food safety to ensure your outdoor event is memorable for all the right reasons.
Prior to barbecue time, defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator or by submerging sealed packages in cold water. You can also microwave-defrost, but only if the food will be grilled immediately afterward.
Marinate foods in the refrigerator before you leave for your picnic. Never on the way or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Do not reuse marinade.
Wash – Wash – Wash
Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables even if you plan to peel them. Fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated or kept on ice to maintain quality and safety. At your picnic site, clean the table, barbeque equipment, and utensils before and during food preparation. If you have access to running water, use a water jug, soap, and paper towels, or use moist towelettes when you are cleaning your hands.
Separate Coolers When Possible
Pack raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate cooler if possible. If not, wrap it securely and store at the bottom of the cooler where the juices can’t drip onto other foods. Place beverages in a separate cooler; this will offer easy drink access while keeping perishable food coolers closed.
When packing picnic gear, place food from the refrigerator directly into an insulated cooler immediately before leaving home, and use lots of ice or ice packs to keep it at 40 °F or below. Load coolers into the passenger compartment of the car; it’s cooler than the trunk. Once at the picnic site, keep food in coolers until serving time, out of direct sun, and avoid opening the lids often.
Grill to Temp
When grilling, cook food thoroughly to kill germs that cause food poisoning and serve food while it is hot, 140 °F or warmer. Pack a food thermometer to help you. Keep clean utensils and platters available when grilling, and when removing foods from the grill, place them on a clean platter. Never use the same platter, plates, or utensils that you used for raw meat, poultry or seafood with cooked foods as it can allow bacteria to spread.
Watch the Sun
Watch the time and outside temperature – don’t let hot or cold perishables sit out in the “Danger Zone”(between 40 °F and 140 °F) for more than two hours – or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 °F. If they do, discard them. If you have leftover cooked food refrigerate it within two hours. Once home reheat leftover food thoroughly to above 167 °F / 75 °C before eating.