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How can I prevent food poisoning during picnics?

The sunny days of summer bring hot temperatures and outdoor gatherings. It's also a time of increased risk of food poisoning. So, before you pack the picnic basket, remember these simple tips to ensure that unwanted bacteria won't have a place at your table:
  • Wash hands often. Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often.
  • Keep raw meats and ready-to-eat goods separate. Bring extra plates -- one for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination. Also, marinate foods in the refrigerator before you go. Don't reuse marinade used on raw meat or poultry unless boiled.
  • Cook to proper temperatures. Cook your favorite foods to the right temperature by using a meat thermometer; hamburger to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken breasts to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.
  •  Refrigerate promptly below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or icepacks to keep temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Transport the cooler in the back seat of your air-conditioned car instead of in your hot trunk and remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill. Don't leave food outside in hot weather (90 degrees Fahrenheit or above) for more than one hour.
Vandana  R. Sheth
Nutrition & Dietetics

Maintain food at the right temperatures--hot food hot and cold food cold.  Food can be kept in an insulated bag with a thermometer to ensure safe temperature maintenance.  Use icepacks to keep food cold.  Food becomes unsafe if kept out for more than one hour if it is hotter than 90 degrees F or for two hours below 90 degrees F.  Place leftovers in containers inside the refrigerator as soon as possible to minimize the growth of bacteria.  Visit foodsafety.org for more tips.

Kelly Snow, RDN
Nutrition & Dietetics
To help prevent food poisoning during picnics, try and pack non-perishable items so you don’t have to worry about keeping it hot or cold enough. Anything that needs to be refrigerated or kept cold should be put in a cooler with ice. Lunch meats and meats to grill should be kept closest to the ice near the bottom. If the ice melts, throw it out.
 
If you’re grilling, it could also be helpful to bring a thermometer to make sure your meats are heated to the correct temperature. 

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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.