Summer is the time to get outside and enjoy the warm weather. For many people, this season is also an opportunity to have an outdoor picnic or barbecue. However, eating outside in warm weather also brings the risk of foodborne illness. In fact, 1 in 6 people get sick each year from foodborne pathogens. That being said, use these food safety tips for your next outdoor gathering this summer:
- Clean your hands. Wash your hands before and after handling raw meat, poultry or seafood. Also wash them before serving or eating food.
- Keep cold food chilled. Pack well-insulated coolers with lots of ice or ice packs to keep food chilled and safe to eat. Consider packing meat, poultry and seafood frozen so that they stay colder longer.
- Watch the temperature. Don’t let perishable food sit out for more than two hours. If it is warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit outside, don’t let food sit out for longer than an hour.
- Separate your coolers. Keep beverages in one cooler, perishable meat, poultry or seafood in another, and fruits and vegetables in another. This prevents cross-contamination and keeps perishables cooler longer.
- Use multiple plates and utensils. Do not use the same plates and utensils for cooked meat, poultry or seafood that you used when these proteins were raw. Bacteria from raw protein juices can easily spread to cooked food. Use clean platters, plates and utensils for all serving and eating purposes.
- Stay germ-free. Use water, soap and paper towels to wash hands at your picnic, if available. Otherwise, bring plenty of disposable wipes and hand sanitizer to stay clean and germ-free.
Spending your summer outdoors with good food and friends is exactly how you want to remember these cherished times. You can make your next gathering memorable and safe with these guidelines.