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Picnic Food: How to Keep it Delicious and Safe

Picnics are a fabulous way to spend an afternoon with your family and friends. But it’s always best to be extra careful about food safety. Here is a checklist:

  • Always wash your hands before handling or cooking food.
  • Do not prepare foods more than a day before the picnic.
  • Keep cold food cold. Pack cold food in an insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
  • Transport coolers in the passenger area of the car – not the trunk, which heats up fast. When you get there, put a blanket over the cooler and move it to a shady spot.
  • Keep hot food hot. If you pick up take-away for your picnic or cook food just before you leave, wrap it up in towels, then newspaper, and place inside a box or heavy paper bag. Serve within one hour.
  • If you cannot keep cold food cold and hot food hot, there are lots of other choices such as peanut butter and jam sandwiches, dried fruit and nuts, fruit that you peel such as apples, oranges and bananas, unopened cans of food, meat, fish or fruit, cookies and cakes, and crackers.
  • Pack moist towelettes and hand deodorizer.
  • When cooking on a grill, cook meat and poultry thoroughly.
  • Do not let any of the hot or cold foods sit out for more than an hour. Throw away any leftovers if they’re left out longer than that.