Outdoor Food Safety

Summer is here and that means time for picnics and barbecues. This season is a great time to head outdoors with friends and family, but warm weather events can also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As summer temperatures heat up, so does the food, causing bacteria to multiply at a rapid pace.

In order to protect yourself, your family and your friends during these warm weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical. Compass Urgent Care has put together some guidelines we found through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for transporting, preparing and serving food safely.

Keep Your Food Safe – All the way to the picnic table

Picnic

Picnic

  • Keep cold food cold.Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at
    40°F or below
     to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry, and seafood may be packed while still frozen so that they stay colder longer.
  • Organize cooler contents.Consider packing beverages in one cooler and perishable food in another. That way, as picnickers open and reopen the beverage cooler to replenish their drinks, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor air temperatures.
  • Keep coolers closed. Once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold longer. This might be a good time to explain to kids that only adults will manage the cooler.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate.Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean your produce.Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler – including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel. Note: Packaged fruits and vegetables that are labeled “ready-to-eat,” “washed,” or “triple washed” need not be washed.

 Quick Tips for Picnic Site Prep

Food safety begins with proper hand cleaning — including outdoor settings. Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean.

  • Outdoor Hand Cleaning:If you don’t have access to running water, simply use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
  • Utensils and Serving Dishes:Concentrate on keeping all utensils and platters clean when preparing food.

Follow Safe Grilling Tips

Barbecue grill

Barbecue grill

Grilling and picnicking often go hand-in-hand. And just as with cooking indoors, there are important guidelines that should be followed to ensure that your grilled food reaches the table safely.

  • Marinate safely.Marinate foods in the refrigerator – never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
  • Cook immediately after “partial cooking.”If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
  • Cook food thoroughly.When it’s time to cook the food, have your food thermometer ready. Always use it to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly.
  • Keep “ready” food hot.Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. This keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.
  • Don’t reuse platters or utensils.Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
  • Check for foreign objects in food.If you clean your grill using a bristle brush, check to make sure that no detached bristles have made their way into grilled food.

 

 

Safe Food Temperature Chart
Food Temperature
Steaks and roasts 145°F
Fish 145°F
Pork 145°F
Ground beef 160°F
Egg dishes 160°F
Chicken breasts 165°F
Whole poultry 165°F
Shrimp, lobster, and crabs cook until pearly and opaque
Clams, oysters, and mussels cook until the shells are open

 

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