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Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Summer has finally arrived, with its outdoor celebrations, parties, picnics and barbeques.  These are perfect places for fun and enjoying the company of good friends and family.  Food always seems to be central to these events but with summer's heat, handling food safely is important to reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

How can you keep your food safe at outdoor celebrations?

Much of keeping your food safe at these events is common sense. 
picnic food safety
iStockphoto / adlifemarketing
We've listed our top tips below and included some from the FDA in their article, Eating Outdoors, Handling Food Safely:

  • Plan ahead for keeping foods such as cold salads and raw meats chilled, ideally below 40 degrees.  Coolers with plenty of ice or ice packs are perfect for this.   Cooked and raw foods should be transported and stored separately to minimize the risk of cross contamination.    Another tip we've found useful?  Plan for additional cooler space for those last minute additions to the menu.  If your parties are anything like ours, someone almost always brings a special dish for everyone to enjoy.  Just don't expect that everyone will remember to bring a cooler!
  • Just as with cold foods, have a plan for keeping hot foods hot, such as in an insulated food container.   Our tip? If you're making a hot dish for a cookout, prepare it just before attending event to keep it as fresh as possible.
  • To prevent cross contamination of foods when grilling, don't reuse containers, platters or utensils and allow for plenty of clean plates, bowls and silverware.  Bring extras and have them available as needed.
  • Hands should be thoroughly washed before handling food.  Make it easy for everyone to do this by providing water, soap and hand towels.
  • Ensure meats and all other foods that will be served are thoroughly cooked.  A food thermometer is perfect for this.  Looking for a short list of temperatures needed to ensure your meat is cooked?  Visit the FDA's article for a handy little chart.
  • Have a plan for safely storing leftovers, including separate food containers for meats and other dishes.  This can be as simple as bringing a few extra food containers, or some food bags and clips.
  • Use lids, food covers, containers and bag clips to protect foods and keep them covered as much as possible.
  • Per the FDA, food should be left out no longer than 2 hours, and if the temperature is greater than 90 degrees, no longer than 1 hour.
  • To keep foods chilled, keep coolers closed as much as possible.
For more outdoor food safety tips, we recommend visiting the FDA's website for more information on everything from picnic site prep to transporting food safely.  Did you find these tips useful?  Please share them through our Facebook and Twitter links below.  Want to discover easy tips and tricks for healthy, sustainable living and have them delivered right to your in box weekly?  Follow our blog by signing up for our RSS feed.

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