This time of year as the weather gets warmer, we move our cooking and eating outdoors. It is important to have good food safety habits when we are dealing with food and hot weather.

Eat outdoors safely

Family Picnic Outdoor Family Picnic Outdoor Family Picnic Outdoor

This time of year as the weather gets warmer, we move our cooking and eating outdoors. It is a great time for garden produce and to enjoy lighter menus. But it is important to have good food safety habits when we are dealing with food and hot weather. And with an older population there is a higher risk for foodborne illness. The elderly have an immune system that cannot fight bacteria or infections as well and there might be other health issues that complicate a foodborne illness.

Food safety reminders:

  • Keep food well-chilled in large roomy coolers
  • Refrigerate all food before storing in the cooler
  • Use smaller food containers that will keep food cold longer
  • Have plenty of air space – don’t pack up the cooler too tightly
  • Use lots and lots of ice

Other food safety tips:

  • Food should be kept out of the cooler no longer than 1 hour
  • Set out small containers of food, and replenish more frequently with the chilled extra food from the cooler
  • Use a spare cooler for all raw meats so that there is no cross contamination with the other picnic food
  • Place cooked meats from the grill onto clean serving dishes – never ever use the dish or container that held the raw meat
  • Store coolers in the shade so that the contents stay chilled longer
  • Have a separate cooler for all of the drinks since it will most likely be opened up more frequently, and that cool air will escape

Cleanliness still applies, even if you are not in the kitchen. Have cleaning and hand wipes accessible for easy clean up. And once you have handled raw meat, everything needs to be cleaned carefully. Be safe, particularly outdoors in the summertime weather. This is especially important for the very young, the sick and the very old.

Recipes to try:

__

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 Sentara 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.