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Goodbye Cicadas, Hello Outdoor Activities!

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Getting into warmer summer days means you are more likely to be dining outdoors. Whether you’re having a picnic at the park or patio dining at a restaurant, it is important to remember food safety rules. 1 in 6 Americans get sick annually from foodborne pathogens. Cicadas are leaving soon, which means now more than ever, it is important to plan how you will practice food safety while dining outside. 


Picnic Error: You didn’t wash your hands!

  • Wash your hands before cooking, after handling raw meat & before eating or serving food

  • Bring hand sanitizer if there is no running water. Make sure to rub it all over the hands, including between the fingers & under the fingernails.

Picnic Error: You didn’t start with a clean slate!

  • Juices from raw meat & poultry can drip into your cooler, creating a breeding ground for bacteria to grow

  • Sanitize your cooler & wash reusable bags for transporting foods

  • Pack food in clean, tightly sealed containers

  • No running water? Wash fruits & vegetables at home first

Picnic Error: You cross contaminated!

  • Bring two sets of plates, tongs & serving utensils: one for handling raw meats & one for serving cooked foods

  • Keep ready-to-eat food such as buns, fruits, vegetables & side dishes away from contaminated serving utensils

  • Do not repurpose marinade used on raw meat, seafood or poultry unless it’s been boiled before going onto ready-to—eat or cooked food

  • Pack your cooler with care. Separate fruits, vegetables & cooked foods from raw meat, poultry & seafood. Place raw foods at the lowest level to avoid dripping juices contaminating ready-to-eat or cooked foods.

Picnic Error: Your cooler lost its cool!

  • Pack your cooler 75% of the way with food, reserving 25% for ice packs

  • Chill or freeze foods & beverages before packing in the cooler

  • Pack cold & hot food separately

  • Always pack an appliance thermometer & check it routinely. It shouldn’t go above 40 degrees Fahrenheit 

Picnic Error: You didn’t bring a food thermometer!

  • Hamburgers should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Chicken breasts & legs should be cooked to at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit

  • There are right & wrong ways to take the temperature of meat. For example, you’ll get a false reading if the food thermometer touches a bone.

  • Select this link for ways to properly use a thermometer & minimal internal temperatures for other foods

Picnic Error: You let food sit out!

  • Keep perishable food out of the danger zone (a temperature range between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit). Bacteria can double every 20 minutes in this zone!

  • Pack foods in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit

  • Transfer the cooler to the back seat of your air-conditioned car, instead of your hot trunk

  • Do not let food sit out for more than 2 hours

  • If the temperature outside if 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, food should only sit out for 1 hour (at most)

  • Bring a timer or alarm to remind you how long the food has been sitting out

  • All foods can make you sick if left out too long. Monitor egg, potato/tuna salads w/ mayonnaise & anything dairy based often 


Reference: Contributors: Sarah Klemm, RDN, CD, LDN & Natalie Feriozzi, MS RDN LDN