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How long can I keep side dishes outside before serving?

It's not uncommon for an outdoor cook to stash side dishes like potato salad or coleslaw on the table while grilling up the main events, but the sun is likely to wreak havoc on mayonnaise-based sides. Keep these dishes (or the jar of mayo) in the fridge or in a cooler until you're ready to serve them. The same goes for cheese and lunchmeats, which are also vulnerable to the sun. These foods also need to be dumped after an hour of sitting outdoors in summer weather.

If you're storing things in a cooler, make sure the cooler stays cold. Sit it out of the sun, and use plenty of ice packs or frozen water bottles, which you can then drink, after you've removed the food. It's better to store beverages in a separate cooler so the one with the food isn't opened as frequently.

Even fruits and veggies that have been kept cold in the fridge may be carrying bacteria or tiny critters, so be sure to give your produce a good wash before serving.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.