Picnic Safety Tips
Be Safe, not Sick
Picnic safety is important, especially picnic food safety.
outdoors is great fun but has its own special challenges. We love
eating al fresco in sunny weather but warm temperatures means that bacteria grow more easily in food so we must be extra careful with hygiene rules.
Dangerous bacteria grows more easily in hot weather.
You cannot see, smell or taste dangerous bacteria.
If certain foods are not kept cold enough, they will not stay safe.
If you then eat this food, you may get the flu-like symptoms caused by
Follow picnic safety guidelines and keep cold food below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and hot food above 140.
Everything that comes into contact with the picnic food must be clean.
Be careful with cans of drink and serve the contents in tumblers - or wash the cans thoroughly before leaving home.
Deadly bacteria can be found on the top of cans, depending on where they have been stored previously.
Food preparation and packing
- Clean preparation is of the utmost importance as far as food hygiene is concerned. Wash your hands and work areas and ensure that all utensils are clean before preparing the picnic.
- Foods cooked in advance, but to be served cold, should be prepared
with time enough to chill them thoroughly in the fridge before being
packed in a cool box or ice chest.
- Wrap all foods separately. Put the food in the bottom of the cool box
with ice packs on the top. A full box retains the cold longer than a
partially full one, so fill empty spaces with extra ice or ice packs.
any raw food for barbecues in separate bags or foil and do not pack
close to ready-to-eat food. Avoiding cross-contamination is essential
for picnic safety.
- Do not partially cook meat to barbecue later. This would allow bacteria to multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them.
frozen meat, poultry and seafood in the fridge, not at room
temperature. Marinade in the fridge too, before transferring to the cool box for transportation.
- Transport the food inside the car and not in the boot/trunk, which, without air conditioning or open windows, is always hotter.
At the picnic site
- Running water will most likely not be available, so your hands should
be sanitized with anti-bacterial hygiene gel or wipes, at least as
often as they would be washed at home.
- Keep the cool box in the shade, keep the lid closed and avoid opening it as much as possible. Use a separate cool box for drinks to avoid opening the one containing the perishable food too often.
- Keep plates and cutlery, as well as food, covered before use. Flies
and other insects and animals can carry germs. You might like to have
fly traps with you too - and a super simple device for scaring away wasps.
- Never barbecue meat that is still frozen.
The outside will cook before the inside, which means that the inside may
not reach a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria.
put barbecued food onto a clean plate to avoid cross-contamination.
Never use a plate that the food was on in its raw state.
- If a marinade had raw meat, poultry or fish in it, do not then use it on cooked food.
- Use a food thermometer for extra picnic safety. Hamburgers and ground meats should reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Ground or minced poultry should reach 165 degrees. Beef, veal and lamb steaks should reach 145 degrees for medium rare meat. Whole poultry should reach 180 degrees, measured in the thigh, but 170 degrees is fine for breast meat alone. All pork products should reach 160 degrees F. internally.
- Any food left outside for more than 2 hours (less in temperatures over 90 degrees F) should be thrown away. If kept in the cool box,
and there is still ice left in this on arrival back home, then the food
should be safe to eat - but transfer it immediately back to your
- Wash cool boxes thoroughly, especially if they have contained raw meat, poultry, or fish. Allow them to dry in the air before storing them again.
Picnic safety is a greater challenge than eating indoors but, with a few extra precautions and planning, food hygiene rules can be obeyed and everyone can stay healthy.
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