The summer months are for many family and social gatherings. Typically some of these will be picnics, here are a few suggestions to ensure that the food is properly prepared and everyone stays healthy.
Food safety begins with proper hand cleaning – including outdoor settings. Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean.
If you don’t have access to running water, simply use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
Take care to keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food.
Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40 degrees or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer.
Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
Once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold longer.
Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped.This keeps their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
Clean your produce.
Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler – including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
Don’t leave cold foods out in the heat for more than two hours, or more than one hour if the temperatures rise above 90 degrees. You can extend the amount of time you can leave cold foods out by placing them in a tray of ice for serving.