Picnic tips: Ensuring your food is safe to eat


Take care to handle your picnic food properly to avoid any illness later. — Filepic

Picnics can be a fun way to enjoy nature.

But improper handling of the food can mean trouble in the form of foodborne germs.

Before you fill your cooler, review these tips for safer picnics.

> Keep an eye on the clock when you open the cooler

“The general rule is to have food out only two hours,” says Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist Kate Zeratsky.

“However, on a hot day – 90 [degrees Fahrenheit, or 32 degrees Celcius] and above – you want to limit the time that food is out in that hot weather to one hour.”

She adds: “You might even consider a bowl of ice.

“And then, sit your food container in that ice. That can help maintain a cool temperature.”

> Pay special attention to proteins

“Bacteria like protein,” says Zeratsky.

So keep meat cold until it hits the grill.

Then, use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s cooked to a safe temperature.

At least 160 degrees [Fahrenheit, or 71°C] for ground meats and 165 [degrees Fahrenheit, or 74°C] for poultry.

> Shield your sweets, including the ones from Mother Nature

“Fruit, with its natural sugars, is going to attract some bugs,” says Zeratsky.

“So you might want to keep it covered.”

> Better to be safe than sorry

“When in doubt, throw it out.

“You don’t want anyone to get sick.” – By Jason Howland/Mayo Clinic News Network/Tribune News Service

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