How to Keep Your Picnic Food Safe
Everybody loves picnics but cooking and eating food outdoors has some hazards, from insect bites to food poisoning. To ensure you and your family stay safe consider following the simple food safety rules below.
Ensure Hot Food Stays Hot and Cold Food Stays Cold
To prevent food poisoning make sure you keep hot dishes hot and cold ones cold. The bacteria that spoil the food act really fast at moderate temperatures. That is why it's vitally important to keep food you you've cooked at home hot to minimum 140°F until it's time to eat it. If you are not very experienced at cooking it might be a real challenge to achieve this.
You can use insulated thermos jugs and coolers to keep food warm. The best way to keep food warm longer is to preheat these cases. Just fill the reservoir with boiling water and keep it closed for 10 minutes, then pour water out, dry it, and quickly pack your food.
You can also buy slow cookers that come with insulated carrying cases. You can easily preheat these devices at home before packing your meal. If your picnic site has electricity, you can heat food again right before having your meal.
When it comes to transporting cold food to be cooked at the picnic site it is important to keep it at 40°F or less so it doesn't go bad. We recommend putting some ice or its substitutes into your cooler. It would be a good idea to have one cooler for storing drinks and ice and another one for storing food. If you have two separate coolers you can open and close the one with drinks as often as you like and your other food will stay cold.
Raw Foods Must not Come in Contact with Cooked Foods
This is the basic kitchen rule that you should follow on a picnic. To eliminate the chances of raw food contaminating cooked food make sure you pack uncooked meat separately from any cooked meals. The same rule applies to knives, cutting boards and plates. For an extra measure of precaution consider double-wrapping food or placing it in two layers of sealed plastic bag. Avoid putting cooked meats on unwashed plates that you used for raw meat and other uncooked foods.
Beware of Leftovers
If you cooked too much food on your picnic you might be tempted to save it to eat later or even take home. But do remember to chill any picnic leftovers to below 40°F the sooner the better. Put the food left in scalable bags and place it in a cooler with ice. Never use wrapping that contained raw meat! Avoid eating any cooked food that stayed on the summer heat for more than an hour!
No picnic is complete without delicious food and compliance with these simple rules will ensure you stay healthy and open for all fun activities that await for you outdoors.