There are just a few weeks left in the summer, but there’s still time to enjoy all your favorite outdoor activities ?— and that includes going on a picnic.
Today you’ll learn to prepare for a picnic safely and efficiently. Here are five tips on food safety that’ll help you do just that.
- Separate raw food from your “ready-to-eat” food.
It’ll ruin a picnic if your poultry or raw meat leaks into your cooler, contaminating the other food and creating a breeding ground for bacteria. When packing your cooler, seal your zip-close bags tight, keep raw food separate from other foods and sanitize your cooler before and after using it.
- Use different bowls, plates and utensils to serve food and avoid cross-contamination.
Bring two sets of everything — one for raw foods and one for cooked. Accidently serving cooked hamburgers on a plate where there was raw hamburger can lead to foodborne illnesses.
- Bring ice.
Ice is a must at a picnic, whether for the cooler or your drink. But never repurpose ice. If you use a bag of ice in your cooler, don’t scoop out a handful and put it in your drink. That could cause health issues because of the bacteria in the cooler. Prevent this by putting the ice in a separate sealed bag inside the cooler and using that ice to cool your drink from the summer heat.
- Don’t leave food that needs to be refrigerated out too long.
One error you can make would be to leave your refrigerated food in the heat. There is a “danger zone.” This is when the temperature ranges between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When the food is in the danger zone, bacteria can double every 20 or so minutes. Don’t let food sit out longer than two hours. If the temperature reaches 90 degrees, try limiting the time the food is in the heat to one hour. If you have egg, potato or tuna salads made with mayonnaise — and anything dairy-based — monitor them closely while on a picnic.
- Wash your hands.
Last but not least, always wash your hands before handling food. If you don’t have running water near your picnic spot, use hand sanitizer or a wet wipe — and if you don’t have a wet wipe, grab a bottle of water and some on-the-go soap and scrub, then rinse.
Picnics can be very enjoyable and relaxing when done safely!
For more healthy eating tips, visit tanner.org/healthyeating.