In recognition of National Food Safety Education Month, we are presenting a four part mini-series here on the Food Bank blog. You’ll get information and ideas you can act upon to make your food and your family safer!

Here is Part I: How to NOT Get Sick on That Picnic

Picnic food safety in Hollister

Picnic season is still upon us and many people enjoy dining a la carte in spring, summer and fall.  But while picnics can be a fun time for everyone, there are also some risks associated with consuming food kept outdoors and out of the refrigerator. Although fall is a little bit cooler than the hot summer months, food can still spoil quickly. With that in mind, it’s important to take safety precautions to avoid getting sick at outdoor events.

Food Safety Month Offers Important Reminders of Picnic Safety

September is National Food Safety Education Month, making this the perfect time to learn some basic picnic safety tips. For example, to help ensure you don’t consume or serve food on a picnic that makes you ill:

  • Use ice or frozen gel packs to ensure that poultry, seafood and meat stay cold. These types of perishable foods need to be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below to avoid the growth of potentially dangerous bacteria. You can also pack them into your picnic basket while they are still frozen in order to help them maintain their low temperature.

  • Keep your cooler organized, with perishable foods all packaged together. Drinks, which you don’t typically have to worry about spoiling, can be kept in a separate cooler.  Planning to grill? Carefully wrap your raw meat, seafood and poultry in order to prevent their juices from running onto and contaminating other foods that are eaten raw (such as veggies and fruits).

  • Close those cooler lids as much as possible. This will help to keep the contents colder. Remember, when that temperature creeps up, bacteria thrives.

  • Don’t put the cooler in the trunk. By letting the cooler ride in the vehicle with the air conditioning instead of in the hot trunk, you help to keep the temperature down and keep the food safe for longer.

  • Clean your produce before packing it for the picnic.  A vegetable brush can help to remove dirt and pesticide residue on the produce that you won’t easily be able to wash off while you are eating outside and enjoying the picnic.

  • Bring a food thermometer along. If you’re going to be grilling on your picnic, you want to make sure that all meat you throw on the grill is fully cooked and reaches its safe internal temperature.  A food thermometer helps to ensure you aren’t eating uncooked meat. Do you really want to take a chance by guessing?

These are just a few of the key things to remember when you are packing a picnic basket to enjoy on your day out.  By being cautious and taking reasonable precautions, you can have a great time and reduce the chances of anyone ending up with food poisoning at the end of the day.

Have picnic experience? How do you make sure your food is still safe and tasty when it’s time to eat?

Community Food Bank’s mission is to provide food, nutritional education and advocacy for our neighbors in need within San Benito County.


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