Show Yogi & Booboo Bear who’s boss with these tips & tricks to safely have fun eating outdoors
It’s a beautiful day, you want to make the most of the summer sun, and you think brilliantly to yourself, “It’s a perfect day for a picnic!” You’re right and here are some safety tricks to make sure your pack your picnic like a professional. Most foods that people like to pack for picnics and barbecues are perishable foods, which means it can go bad quickly. Examples of perishable foods are meat, poultry, fish, dairy, salads, and fresh fruit. You want to keep your food fresh so you can enjoy it instead of the ants. As long as foods that are intended to be served cold stay below 40°F and foods that are intended to be served hot stay above 140°F, you’re fine. However, unless your picnic or barbecue is going to be in your own backyard, particularly if you need to travel a long distance to get to the picnic site, keeping your food at the optimum temperature is not always possible.
Keeping and cooking your food at desired temperatures is important. Foods that are intended to be served should stay below 40°F and foods that are intended to be served hot stay above 140°F. However, unless your picnic or barbecue is going to be in your own backyard, particularly if you need to travel a long distance to get to the picnic site, keeping your food at the optimum temperature is not always easy.
Here is the general rule of thumb for foods that are normally refrigerated: Perishable food will still be safe to eat if unrefrigerated for up to 2 hours if the surrounding temperature is less than 90 degrees. Perishable food can remain safely unrefrigerated for only 1 hour if the surrounding temperature is 90 degrees or higher. Exceeding these guidelines will place you and everyone in your party at risk of developing a foodborne illness.
We don’t want to scare you unnecessarily, but you need to plan appropriately in order to host the best picnic of all time. So here are 10 simple pointers to make your summer outing a smash.
• After purchasing perishable foods head directly home and store appropriately. Don’t allow them to sit in your car while you run other errands.
• Keep your perishable food in the refrigerator until you are ready to leave the house. These should be the last items you load into your car.
• Pack perishable food in a cooler, cold pack, or insulated containers just before you are ready to go. A bag of ice will also help. Or for long trips, consider freezing the foods that need to be served cold.
• Use separate coolers for foods and beverages.
• If the cooler isn’t completely full, pack extra ice or freezer packs so the food will hold a cold temperature better. Also, have the air conditioner in your car turned on and keep the cooler in a part of the car that will get the full brunt of the air conditioning.
• For salads that call for a dressing such as mayonnaise, instead of adding the dressing ahead of time, bring an unopened jar you kept in the refrigerator. Then wait until you are ready to eat to open it and add it to your food. Any unused dressing should be discarded.
• Bring bottled water and paper towels with you for washing your hands, food, and utensils in case there isn’t a convenient source of potable water at the picnic site. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap or a hand sanitizer before and after handling any food and make sure your guests do likewise.
• Keep your picnic cooler in the shade rather than in the hot sun.
• If you are going to be grilling food, be sure it is heated and cooked sufficiently. Raw hamburgers need to be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160°F and raw poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, as measured by a cooking thermometer. Conversely, foods intended to be served cold need to be kept cold. Don’t take a chance serving or eating any perishable foods that may not be adequately chilled or heated. When in doubt, throw it out!
• Be sure to unpack and wash your cooler as soon as you get home. Immediately refrigerate any leftovers that are still cold. Otherwise, discard them at once.
Now that you got the scoop on safety, go and have some fun in the sun!