Think food safety when having a picnic
Picnic season is here, so it's time to think food safety. Whether your gathering will be steps from your kitchen - on your porch or in your backyard - or an excursion to a park or beach, be sure you know the guidelines for keeping food safe for consumption. Regardless of your destination, some basics apply across the board.
During the summer, the rate of food-borne illness, commonly known as food poisoning, jumps significantly, due to high temperatures and the increased amount of outdoor dining. Be sure to follow safety recommendations related to food preparation and storage to reduce your risk of a visit to the emergency room this summer.
Here are some tips and recommendations from UHS and the Food and Drug Administration:
Thaw and marinate meat in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Don’t place cooked meat – burgers, hot dogs, chicken, etc., back on the same plate as the raw meat. Bacteria such as salmonella or e. coli can be present in raw meat and its juices, and can make you sick if cooked meat bathes in them. Take a second plate out to the barbecue grill for the finished product.
Be sure meat is thoroughly cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Meat thermometers are inexpensive and readily available at grocery stores. And if you clean your grill with a bristle brush, the FDA recommends checking for any bristles in grilled foods before serving.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. To keep things fresh, refrigerate food after it’s been out for an hour. Set bowls or containers of especially vulnerable dairy or mayonnaise-based dishes, such as rice pudding or macaroni salad, into a bowl of ice on your serving table to keep them at peak freshness. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure how long a hot or cold dish has been sitting out: when in doubt, throw it out.
Outdoors at a park, beach or similar venue, make sure you have washed fruits and vegetables ahead of time so that they’re ready for use as soon as you arrive.
Transport raw meats in their own cooler or package them well to ensure juices don’t leak onto other foods. Keep beverages in a separate cooler so repeated opening for drinks doesn’t impact food storage temperature. Coolers should be kept at 40 degrees F or below to ensure the stability of the food inside.
Wash your hands before beginning food prep and after touching raw meat. Take a jug of water with you if you’re unsure about handwashing facilities at your venue.
Unpack the cooler as soon as you get home to ensure any leftover goodies remain edible.
For more information, visit the FDA’s website, fda.gov, or stop by UHS Stay Healthy at the Oakdale Mall.