Picnics and barbecues are tons of fun but in the warm weather, you need to be particularly careful about handling the fixin's if you don't want to get sick. Here are our cardinal rules of summer food safety:
1. Bring on the Ice: Pack at least a half-pound of ice per quart capacity of your cooler.
2. The Food Goes First: Fill your cooler with food then place the ice on top - cold air and melted ice will travel down.
3. Keep the Sun Away: At the picnic site, keep the cooler under a tree or in a shaded spot where it's out of direct sunlight.
Related: How to be Food-Safety Smart
4. Box 'em Separate: Pack a separate cooler for snacks like fruit and drinks. That way every time the cooler's opened, meat and salads won't be exposed to hot air.
5. No Drips Allowed: Make sure raw meats are well packaged so they can't drip on other foods or utensils.
6. Temperature Check: Pack an instant read thermometer and use it to make sure meat's grilled to safe internal temperatures. Especially for hamburgers!
7. Wash 'n Dry: If you check food and it's not done yet, be sure to rinse the thermometer tip and/or the knife and fork before you test the meat again.
Related: Rethink Your Food Storage
8. Stack up on Plates: Don't put fully cooked meat, poultry, or fish on a platter that contained raw meat unless the platter was thoroughly washed. A wipe or a rinse isn't sufficient to kill illness-causing bacteria.
9. Just Trash It: No perishables should be left unchilled for more than an hour. Food that's been on the picnic table and hasn't been eaten should be tossed, not repacked, when you head home.
10. Fully Chilled: Any fruits or vegetables that've been cut open need to be kept refrigerated. If you hit a farmstand on your way home, don't buy a wedge of watermelon or a half a cantaloupe that's been sitting on a counter in the sun.
What are your concerns and questions about food safety? Let me know in the comments.
- by Paul Hope
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