How to prevent food poisoning on your summer picnic

Whether you're looking for a family activity or a fun date idea, a picnic is a great way to connect with nature and spend time together. But, similarly as with barbecues and pool parties where food sits out at room temperature (or higher!) for sometime, food poisoning can become a risk. Try these food safety tips on for size:

Prepare for cross-contamination

Raw meats and other foods could contain bacteria and other pathogens that could lead to illness, if ingested. It can also be easy to unknowingly cross contaminate containers, plates and other utensils that may have held raw food. An easy way around this is to bring extra plastic bags to hold already-used utensils and plates.

Multiple coolers

An easy way to stay organized and keep foods separate is by using multiple coolers. You can keep drinks in one cooler, and put raw foods in another cooler. Keeping coolers separate will also help you keep raw foods colder.

Limit your food's sun time

Try to avoid leaving food in direct sunlight and outdoors for more than two hours. Food may spoil if it's kept out too long. When it is 90 degrees or higher, try to cut this down to 1 hour. Bacteria rapidly grows in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, and can double after being exposed in as little as 20 minutes. Cover foods with plastic wrap or keep them in your cooler when they're not being served!

Serve at the desired temperature

Last but not least, one of the easiest ways to prevent food poisoning is to always serve your food at the appropriate temperature. Hot foods must be served hot, while cold foods must be served cold. If a hot dish is allowed to cool down, this can speed bacteria growth. Try to immediately serve hot foods and keep colder foods on ice or in your cooler to prevent contamination.

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