Food Safety

Safe summer picnic tips

Consumer Reports offers reminders to keep you safe from food poisoning

NBC Universal, Inc.

Having a picnic or cookout at a park or a beach is a great summer tradition, but the warm weather can quickly turn tasty treats into nasty bacteria. Consumer Reports food safety teams share essential reminders to keep food poisoning off your summer menu.

The head of Consumer Reports food safety research and testing says bacteria love hot and humid summer weather, making it the perfect time of year for harmful bacteria to multiply quickly on food. When this happens, someone eating the food can get sick.

More people get food poisoning in the summer than at any other time. Consumer Reports has a few tips for having a safer summer picnic.

First, prep and store your food and coolers the night before. Fill the coolers with ice to lower the temperature, and keep all your food refrigerated until it’s time to leave. Then, pack it full. Do not leave any open space; put new ice or ice packs on top.

If you are driving far, try to keep food in the air-conditioned part of your car, not the trunk, where temperatures are higher!

Stash your cooler in a shady spot when you get to the party. Pack a separate cooler just for drinks so the lid on the food cooler stays closed longer.

When it’s time to eat, if you’re setting the food out for guests to serve themselves, consider putting cold salads and side dishes in a larger bowl filled with ice!

While you may already be wary of dishes containing mayo or dairy on a hot day, all food must not be left out of the cooler for more than two hours or only one hour if the temperature is over 90 degrees!

Don’t be tempted to cook meat at home partially. Consumer Reports says half-cooked meat can be warm enough to encourage bacteria to grow, not kill it. Your best bet is to grill at the party and use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s reached a safe temperature.

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