Safe Summer Picnics

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 4, 2001

Handling food properly is the key to a safe picnic.

A safe picnic begins with planning: decide what you’ll take and how much you will need.

Make your salads and sandwiches early-either the night before or first thing on the day of the picnic.

Email newsletter signup

Then refrigerate.

For salads made with mayonnaise, add the mayonnaise when you make the salad.

Food will chill more quickly in shallow containers.

The more quickly food is chilled completely, the less time there is for bacteria to grow.

Bacteria need warmth to multiply.

Moist foods seem to be ideal places for bacteria.

That’s why it is especially important to handle raw meats and salads such as potato salad, egg salad and tuna salad correctly.

Don’t combine foods in a single container.

Keep everything separate.

Never store raw food such as hamburgers for the grill with already-cooked foods.

You may spread bacteria to a food that wouldn’t normally have it.

Take the right equipment to deal with raw foods.

Use zip-top plastic bags to transport them and bring pre-moistened towelettes or liquid hand sanitizer to use after you’ve handled raw food.

Now you need to get your food safely to the picnic site. Coolers and ice chests are ideal.

Put your containers and resealable plastic bags in coolers filled with ice.

Cold air sinks, so put some ice on top of the food, too.

Make sure meats and seafood are in well-sealed containers to prevent leaks that could contaminate other food.

Once at the picnic site, put the cooler in the shade.

Remove foods from coolers only as you need them.

Leave other foods on ice as you grill.

Have a separate cooler for drinks so you won’t expose the food to warm air every time you want a drink.

Frostings made with buttercream, whipped cream or cream cheese can spoil, so don’t leave them in the sun.

After the picnic, any food that’s out of refrigeration for more than two hours should be thrown away.

Bacteria multiplied during that time and can make you sick.

Putting food back in the cooler will stop the bacteria from multiplying but they may have already have grown to large enough numbers to make you ill.

Play it safe and throw away the leftovers.