July is National Picnic Month.
Picnicking is a special part of summer time activities. If picnic foods are not handled safely, they can cause foodborne illness. To prevent foodborne illness, take safety on your picnic.
There are four reasons why picnics can be hazardous:
1. When temperatures are over 85 degrees, food is safe only one hour. Hot foods need to stay hot and cold foods need to be cold.
2. Food receives a lot of handling. Picnic foods such as potato salad and hotdogs often are handled a lot during preparation. Handling them increases the risk of contamination.
3. Food is not cooled rapidly after cooking. Warm temperatures increase the bacterial growth.
4. Equipment to keep hot food hot and cold food cold is usually not used and sits out for long periods of times.
Keep food safe by following these tips:
• Wash hands before handling food and using clean utensils and containers.
• Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen.
• Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria growth; however the foods that are mixed with mayonnaise carry bacteria.
• Cut melons need to be kept cold; melons are not acidic and can promote growth of harmful bacteria.
• Keep food cold. Keep at 40 degrees or below preventing bacterial growth. Use a cooler that is with ice.
• Keep hot food hot. Keep food that needs to be hot at 140 degrees or hotter. If you can’t keep foods hot or cold, then choose foods that require no heat or refrigeration.
• Wash your hands. Pack moist towelettes if water is not available to keep hands clean.
• Pack plenty of utensils and dishes. Never use utensils and dishes that have touched raw foods such as meats. Use paper plates and don’t reuse.
• Thoroughly cook food. Never partially cook food and let sit when finished.
• Cook at the picnic. Whether cooking indoors or outside on a grill, cook thoroughly to proper temperatures: 165 degrees or above for poultry or stuffing; 160 degrees or above for ground beef or pork, 145 degrees or above for steaks, roast, fish or pork.