Now that Memorial Day has passed, the grilling and picnic season is in full swing. Many of us enjoy the taste of freshly barbecued chicken, steaks and/or hot dogs along with our favorite salads like coleslaw or potato salad. What many of us are may not be aware of are what safety precautions need to be taken which will ensure that your loved ones do not fall ill as a result.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled useful tips on eating safely outdoors this summer. Below are a few they have suggested to ensure your safety during this summer eating season.
Packing and Transporting Food Safely
- Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer.
- Organize cooler contents. Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
- Don’t cross-contaminate. Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
Safe Grilling Tips
- Marinate safely. Marinate foods in the refrigerator - never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
- Cook food thoroughly. When it’s time to cook the food, have your food thermometer ready. Always use it to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly.
Ground beef: 160⁰F
Chicken breasts: 165⁰F
- Don't reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
Serving Picnic Foods
Cold Food: Keep in cooler at 40⁰F or lower until serving time. Once the food has been served, it should not sit out longer than 2 hours or 1 hour if it’s hotter than 90⁰F.
Hot Food: Hot foods should be kept hot, at or above 140⁰F. Wrap food well and keep in an insulated container until it’s ready to be served.
Take heed of the FDA’s advice to ensure that you and your loved ones will have a fun and memorable summer grilling and picnic season. Bon appetite!