November 18, 2018

Summer is Still Here: Avoid Food Poisoning During Picnics

Even though school has started in many areas of the country, it’s still summer. And that means picnics. The CDC has advice to help you avoid food poisoning during summer picnics.

Picnics Food Safety

The first step is to make sure that the foods that should stay cool are cool. That means that perishable foods should be kept below 40°F, whether that food is raw meat or poultry, or a dip made with cream cheese. Those foods should be kept in an insulated cooler, with ice packs, frozen drinks, or freezer packs, until it’s time to cook and eat.

Always cook meat thoroughly to a safe final internal temperature. And use a food thermometer to make sure that temperature is reached. Here’s something most people don’t think about: wash the temperature probe after you test meats and poultry and they aren’t fully cooked. Bacteria could travel on that probe and contaminate a plate or even the food when it’s used again.

Beef steaks and roasts should be cooked to 145°F; fish to 145°F; hamburgers and ground pork to 160°F, and chicken, including ground chicken and turkey, to 165°F. Every time. If you are going to smoke meat, keep the temperature in the smoker at 225°F to 300°F.

Make sure that foods that are eaten raw are kept away from raw meats, poultry, and seafood. And watch out for cross-contamination. Always put cooked meat in a clean plate. Discard or thoroughly cook marinades that have touched raw meat, poultry, or seafood. And don’t use the same utensils on raw foods and cooked and ready-to-eat foods.

Always wash fruits, vegetables, and leafy greens before you use them, unless you bought prepared produce that is marked as washed. If you aren’t sure if water will be available at your picnic, rinse produce before you pack it. Wash your hands well before handling food and after touching raw meat, seafood, or poultry.

If you are grilling, look at the grill surface carefully for bristles from grill brushes. They can get into cooked food and cause injury if eaten.

Finally, refrigerate leftovers in a freezer or fridge within two hours of cooking, or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F. Remember that coolers can only hold food at safe temps – they aren’t made to cool food down to a safe temperature.

Enjoy your picnic and stay safe.

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