Summer’s still in full swing and with summer comes outdoor barbecues and picnics. Though this summer hasn’t been as hot as some in years past, leaving food in the sun can present a safety issue. Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself when enjoying food outdoors.
- Keep it cool. As you prepare perishable food, things like potato salad, pasta salad, cheeses and the link, keep them as cold as possible until you need to move them outside. When it comes time to leave, pack a cooler that’s well-stocked with ice packs. Use separate coolers for beverages as they are opened more frequently.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Everyone knows to keep raw meat in a separate container from other foods but sometimes people tend to pack everything in the same cooler. Keep them separate and bring a separate set of utensils for flipping meat if you’re grilling.
- Don’t let food sit out indefinitely. Generally you can keep perishable foods out on a picnic table for about two hours; one hour if the temperature in 90 degrees or above. Food should remain in the cooler until ready to be served then returned to the cooler as soon as possible.
- To keep or not to keep! If the food sat out on the table most of the day or has not been chilled throughout at roughly 40 degrees, you should probably consider tossing it rather than keeping it as leftovers.
- Wash your hands. While this is a given, it’s really important to remind ourselves that washing our hands before and after preparing, packing and serving food.