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Picnic Food Safety
Follow these tips for packing a safe picnic:
- Try to plan just the right amount of foods to take. That way, you will not have to worry about the storage or safety of leftovers.
- Clean preparation is essential. Wash hands and work areas; be sure all utensils are clean before preparing food.
- Food to be cooked ahead should be cooked in plenty of time to thoroughly chill them in the refrigerator. Use an insulated cooler with sufficient ice or ice packs to keep the food at 40 degrees F. Pack food from the refrigerator to the cooler.
- If you are planning on take-out foods such as fried chicken or barbecued beef, eat them within two hours of pick-up or buy ahead of time and chill before packing the foods into the cooler.
- Don’t put the cooler in the trunk; carry it inside the air-conditioned car.
- At the picnic, keep the cooler in the shade. Keep the lid closed and avoid repeated openings. Replenish the ice if it melts. Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing perishable food won’t be constantly opened and closed.
- Except when it’s being served, the food should be stored in a cooler.When handling raw meat, remove from the cooler only the amount that will fit on the grill.
- Keep hot foods hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit). Use crock pots, warmer units, chaffing pans when possible.
- Keep cold foods cold (below 41 degrees F). Use a refrigerator when possible/coolers with ice otherwise. Put ice under displays if possible.
- Wash hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water.
- Limit the amount of time during display and service that foods are held at improper temperatures, put out only enough food that it will be likely to be consumed quickly (within an hour or so).Thoroughly cook foods.
- Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter at room temperature. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat or poultry in it.
- Thoroughly clean the outer surfaces of melons, cantaloupe and watermelon before slicing. Refrigerate sliced melon promptly.
- Avoid contamination of cooked foods from uncooked food juices.
- Don’t place cooked meats on platter previously used for holding uncooked meats.
- Don’t reuse marinade unless it is to be cooked or heated sufficiently prior to consumption.