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5 Food Safety Necessities for Every Summer Picnic

It’s that time of year again; everything is a little bit brighter and a little bit warmer. It’s summer time! Summer is moving quickly and it’s time for you to get outside and enjoy the warm weather safely! Our team at StateFoodSafety.com has put together a food safety poster to help you remember the list of food safety items you won’t want to forget this summer. Spend all the time you want outdoors with friends and family, but don’t forget food safety along the way!

5 Food Safety Necessities for Every Summer Picnic

Use the poster above to determine the food safety necessities for your summer picnics. And read the tips below to learn more about each summer food safety necessity on the poster.

  1. Soap or Hand Sanitizer
    Don’t get caught germy handed! Wash with soap and water before handling food and after handling raw meats. And as you wash your hands, make sure to follow the proper steps of handwashing to make sure your hands actually get clean. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  1. Multiple Dishes and Utensils
    The more, the merrier! After putting raw meats on the grill, switch to clean plates and utensils. Switching the plates and utensils avoids cross-contamination between the raw food and cooked food. Switching plates throughout the meal also keeps your plates fresh and avoids cross-contamination between foods that have been sitting out in the temperature danger zone (41°F – 135°F) too long and freshly cooked or cooled food. In a restaurant buffet, customers are asked to always use new plates when they go back to the buffet line. This keeps the older food from contaminating the fresher food. Applying this food safety principle to your summer picnic can’t hurt! (Bonus: use plates as coverings to protect food from flies!)
  1. Insulated Cooler with Ice
    Ice, ice baby! Cold foods should be held at 41°F or colder. Holding food at 41°F or colder helps avoid the temperature danger zone and the growth of bacteria. Separate coolers should be used to store ready-to-eat foods (like fruit) away from raw meats. This will help to prevent spreading germs or pathogens from the raw meat onto your ready-to-eat food. And this will help to keep you and your fellow summer picnickers safe from foodborne illness.
  1. Food Thermometer
    Getting warmer! Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food you cook. Some important cooking temperatures to remember: steak to 145°F, hamburger to 155°F, and chicken to 165°F. Cooking food to the right temperature is essential for food safety. Check out this full list of cooking temperatures if you are cooking something not listed on the poster.
  1. Garbage Bags
    When in doubt, throw it out! After four hours, all uneaten, perishable food must be discarded. Never leave perishable food out for more than four hours, otherwise bacteria that cause foodborne illness will multiply to dangerous levels. The FDA advises to only leave food out without heating or cooling for two hours. And their 2013 Food Code advises restaurants to throw food out after four hours without heating or cooling. So when in doubt, throw it out!

And that completes the ultimate list of items you don’t want to forget for your summer picnic! Enjoy the warmer weather safely!

Ariel Jensen and Cami Mills

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Time/Temperature Control for Safety (TCS) Foods Poster