Keep Picnic Foods Safelinnettegoard | July 12, 2011
It’s picnic season. Take time for some simple precautions so that you and your family do not get sick from foodborne illness.
First, when you are out-and-about during the summer, make the grocery store your last stop. If you leave perishable items in your car while it is hot, you increase the chances of bacteria multiplying. If you know you are going to be out for a long time, take a cooler with ice in it or bring an insulated bag for your perishables. Do not keep cold foods at room temperature for more than two hours — and not more than one hour if it is hotter than 90 degrees.
Second, always wash fresh produce with water and wash your work areas and cooking utensile before preparing your picnic foods. Fruits and vegetables can pick up bacteria from dirty countertops and utensils. Taking care of this is as simple as using soap and water.
As for preparing picnic food, items such as meat and deviled eggs are best left to be prepared for the day of the picnic. Your best bet is to thaw any frozen meat by putting it in the refrigerator. And remember — do not put cooked meat back on the same plate it was on when it was raw. The raw juices can contaminate cooked food.
You can prepare some foods early and not have to worry about them at all. Cheese and vegetable trays are a great example. You can cut up chunks of cheese, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery and peppers the night before the picnic — just remember to keep them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and you will have a safe summer picnic!
Author: Linnette Goard, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension