Picnic Safety

Jiuseppe M Russo RD, CD-N, Clinical Dietitian Manager, Hebrew Health Care

Getting outdoors to enjoy the beautiful weather is one of the perks of this time of year. If picnics are part of your plans, take caution with time and temperature to make sure nothing spoils your fun. Eating outdoors can be a great way to get some fresh air during your lunch break. Unfortunately, many of us tend to forget some of the basics of food safety when it comes to eating outdoors. To make sure that food borne illness does not spoil your outdoor eating, follow these simple rules.

  • Wash Your Hands-This effective step is not always so easy when you are outside. Consider washing your hands right before you head out or bring some hand wipes with you.

  • Maintain Food Temperature-Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. The bacteria that can make you sick enjoy warm weather as much as you do. To keep your food safe from unwanted bacteria, keep food below 40F or above 140F. Consider ice packs or hot food containers if you don’t plan to eat your food right away. If you can’t do this, remember that anything left out for more than two hours, or one hour if it is really hot out, should be thrown away.

  • Handle Leftovers Carefully-If you bring your lunch outside and have some leftover, put it in the refrigerator as soon as you get back. If you can’t get it into a refrigerator, toss it into a cooler with ice. As good as it might have been, the risk is not worth keeping it around.

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