The FDA has released tips on eating safely this Memorial Day. Safe food handling when eating outdoors is important and can be tricky.
When you are transporting food for a picnic or potluck, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold food should be stored at temperatures below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen so they stay colder longer.
Organize cooler components. A plain picnic basket usually isn’t insulated enough to hold perishable foods. Use two coolers, with beverages in one and perishable foods in another. As people take out drinks, they won’t expose food to warm outdoor temperatures. Keep coolers closed too.
Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped and separate from foods that will be eaten raw. Clean your produce before packing it too.
And make sure you have appropriate hand cleaning materials. Soap, water, and paper towels are best, but moist disposable towelettes will do.
For grilling, marinate meats safely. Thaw these foods in the fridge, not on the counter. Marinate foods in the fridge, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors.
Always cook meats completely after partial cooking. If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, such as in the microwave or stovetop or slow cooker, do so immediately before the food is grilled.
Cook foods to safe final internal temperatures. You can see a safe food temperature chart at the FDA site. Keep grilled foods hot. Put it on the side of the girl rack, just away from the coals.
Never reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood without thoroughly washing the platters and utensils. That will allow bacteria to cross-contaminate other foods and foods that have been cooked. Have a clean platter and utensils ready to take the food away from the grill.
And check for foreign objects in grilled food. Bristle brushes can leave bristles behind, which can get into the food and hurt someone when they bite into it.