Summer is nearing to an end but we’ve still got a few beautiful days ahead. It’s a great time to enjoy eating outdoors and enjoying a good old-fashioned picnic. The long- celebrated tradition of summer picnics is a great way to enjoy the beauty of the summer season. When packing the cooler, blanket and water, it is important to consider another element of a successful summer picnic, FOOD SAFETY. Summer is often a time when foodborne illness incidents are at there highest and one of the contributing factors is the rise in temperature coupled with improper temperature control. These factors present the perfect opportunity for foodborne bacteria to thrive.
Some tips that should be followed to ensure picnic food safety are:
Keep cold foods cold. Cold foods can be kept cold in a cooler with frozen gel packs or ice. The minimum temperature for safely storing cold foods is 4°C (40°F) or below to prevent bacterial growth. It is better to pack items when they are already cold.
Keep hot foods hot. Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 60 °C (140 °F). Hot foods should not be left out longer than 2 hours in the Danger Zone. Items should be kept in an insulated container that helps maintain temperature control.
To ensure the cooler contents remain cold, keep the cooler in a cool, shaded area and ensure it is not left open.
Pre-wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly to ensure all surface contaminants are removed in the event potable water is not available at the picnic site.