The number of foodborne illnesses increases in June, July and August, and thousands of folks, including vacationers, will end up with emergency room visits from eating foods that carry bacteria.

Keeping food safe during outdoor play

Family Picnic Outdoor

Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. It’s unofficially the kick-off for the grilling and picnic season.

The summertime months bring us hot days so it is a perfect time to be reminded about the importance of picnic food safety. The number of foodborne illnesses increases in June, July and August, and thousands of folks, including vacationers, will end up with emergency room visits from eating foods that carry bacteria.

Bacteria love the heat and will multiply in food when it is served in the warm outdoors. Here are some food safety reminders for the hot summer months.

Chill Out:

  • Keep cold foods COLD. The safety time for food staying outside of the refrigerator drops from 2 hours to just 1 hour.
  • Chill food completely before packing it in the cooler.
  • Transport chilled foods in roomy, insulated coolers.
  • Pack food loosely in coolers with hard-frozen ice packs.
  • Use one cooler for food and have a separate cooler for the more frequently-opened drink cooler.
  • Stash coolers in the shade or under the picnic tables.

Other food safety reminders:

  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
  • Avoid frequent opening of the coolers.
  • Wash hands well – you can pack up the disposable towelettes for easy cleaning.
  • If you plan to marinate meats, discard the marinade when grilling.
  • Use a new set of tongs and clean serving platter once the meat is cooked to avoid cross contamination.

Healthy Picnic Recipes:

Additional food safety information is available at http://www.foodsafety.gov/.

 

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.