We are planning a picnic at the park for our family reunion this summer. How do we make sure no one gets sick?

Attending an outdoor picnic is a fun way to spend a summer day but you don’t want to spoil the good time with a food-borne illness from improper handling of food. To ensure that you are serving safe food to your family and friends, follow these food safety tips:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling food. Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces; clean utensils with hot, soapy water. Pack disposable hand wipes and sanitizers if soap and clean running water are not available.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables under running cold water before leaving.
  • Pack food in airtight plastic containers or bags that seal tightly.
  • Transport cold foods in an insulated cooler; keep it out of the sun and avoid opening it too often.
  • Always keep raw perishable foods separated from ready-to-eat and cooked foods. Avoid cross-contamination of foods by using separate cutting boards and using a clean plate for cooked meat from the grill.
  • Keep cold foods cold (40oF or less) and hot foods hot (140oF or greater). Perishable foods should not be left out for more than an hour if the temperature is above 90oF. Discard any food that has been left out for four or more hours.
  • Cook foods thoroughly; use a food thermometer. The following guidelines are for minimum safe internal temperatures:
    • poultry: 165° F
    • beef, pork, and fish: 145° F in the center
    • ground meats: 155° F
    • casseroles: 165° F

  • Wrap or cover cooked foods in foil to carry to the picnic site to keep hot until serving time.
  • Cool perishable foods quickly and promptly put leftovers back in the cooler; be sure to replenish the ice if it melts.
  • When in doubt, throw it out!

Food safety is always important. Practicing safe food handling will allow you and your guests to enjoy a pleasurable picnic meal!

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