Picnics are a fantastic way to spend time outside with your family. Enjoy the nature around you and take in some of that refreshing fresh air. So, pack your picnic basket, grab your blanket to lay out on the grass, and make sure you bring your sunscreen. But before you do that here are some tips to help make your picnic a little safer.

Packing beverages in a cooler as well as any fresh fruits or vegetables that you are going to eat is important, because they need to stay cold. If you are going to pack raw meats such as pork, chicken, beef, lamb, etc. you want to wrap those up tightly to make sure no juices leak and place them in their own cooler. Cross contamination of food like raw meats with your fruits or vegetables can cause bacteria to grow and can lead to foodborne illnesses.

When packing for a picnic it is essential that you are watching the temperatures of the food you are going to pack. Watch for the “temperature danger zone,” which is anywhere between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping your cold food like fruits and vegetables or even raw meats at 40 degrees or below keep harmful bacteria from growing. As well as keeping your cooked meats or any hot foods that you have made above or at 140 degrees. Making sure that all of your food stay within safe temperatures is a great way to prevent any food borne illnesses.

Next you want to think about how you’re going to clean any utensils or plates that you are using at the picnic. If there is no running water near you a jug of water will work. You also want to have soap to clean the dishes with and paper towels to dry everything off so there is no setting water on the utensils and plates. It is also good habit to have disinfectant or sanitizer wipes to be able to clean the picnic area with before you begin setting up for your afternoon out. But make sure not to use the disinfectant or sanitizer to clean your plates or utensils because they are not food grade and could be harmful to consume.

These were just a few tips that extension has to offer about preparing for a picnic. It is always good habit to check up on safety tips before planning anything new or even brushing up on safety tips that you have known for a while to see if anything has changed. Now that you have your tips for picnics get out there and have yourself a picnic with family or friends to enjoy some outdoor time.

Ashley Cox is a student intern with the Parker County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Agency.

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