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Tips for healthy summer picnic food prep

With summer quickly approaching the calendar is filling with outdoor events, picnics, and barbecues with family and friends. But the warm weather also can invite unwanted guests in the form of food borne illnesses or food poisoning due to unsafe food handling and bacteria. Here are our tips for keeping your picnic safe and sound this summer — from the time you prep to the time you serve your delicious summer dishes!

Preparation/ Packing Tips:

  • Before prepping any types of foods, make sure that your hands and surfaces are clean. If running water isn’t available, consider using wipes, sanitizer, or having a jug with water to use specifically for cleaning purposes.
  • While prepping your picnic foods, remember to keep raw meats, seafood, and poultry separated to prevent cross contamination.
  • When preparing foods with marinade, make sure to let them sit in the refrigerator. Don’t reuse marinate for another dish unless it’s been boiled.
  • Pack your items in a cooler that’s well insulated, and keep the temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it in the back seat rather than the trunk

Cooking Tips:

  • Keep raw and cooked meats separated at the grill.
  • Cook all foods to the proper temperature ranges using a thermometer.Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 2.05.26 PM* From US Food and Drug Administration
  • Grilled food should be kept hot until served and away from the coals if on the grill.
  • When using plates and utensils, make sure that any instruments that touched raw meat do not touch cooked meats, as the juices from the raw meats can spread bacteria to cooked foods.


  • Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 degrees F until serving.
  • Hot foods should be kept above 140 degrees F until served.
  • If food has been outside for more than 2 hours — or 1 hour in temperatures over 90 degrees F — throw it away, since bacteria can rapidly multiply in these conditions.

Remembering these simple tips can keep your parties safe and fun all summer long while avoiding unwanted and unexpected illnesses for you and your family! How do you keep your foods safe? Share your tips in the comments below!



Food and Drug Administration, Eating Outdoors and Handling Food Safely