It's Time For A Picnic

10 Tips To Keep You Healthy And Safe

It's finally summer, which means the sun is out, the grass is green, the days are long and your picnic supplies are begging to be utilized! You heard that right, it's picnic season! But what happens when food gets mixed with warm weather, bugs or a hot car? It becomes unsafe to eat, so we are going to help you make sure that your picnic experience is safe and without complications.

There are several important steps one must take to ensure their food is safe for consumption especially when transporting it to enjoy the outdoors. The following recommendations come from the American Cancer Society and Tufts University.

• Wash your hands, produce and utensils before handling and preparing any food.

• If you plan to grill, pack all raw meats at the bottom of the cooler to prevent any contamination from leakage, or pack in a separate cooler altogether.

• Pack coolers completely with lots of ice packs and/or ice, as a full cooler will stay colder for longer.

• When packing your cooler wait to put any refrigerated items in until just before leaving to ensure they are staying below 40° F for as long as possible to discourage bacterial growth.

• Transport cooler in passenger or backseat instead of the hot trunk, and never leave your cooler inside a hot car as that can increase the risk of bacterial growth.

• When choosing your perfect picnic spot choose a shaded spot to put your cooler or bring a blanket or umbrella to make a shady spot for it. Once food has been out for 2 hours, consider it unsafe (1 hour if it's over 90° F).

• It's time to throw away the food in your cooler if the ice has melted and/or if it smells or looks bad.

• If cooking meat or other foods it's important to keep those items hot/warm, as it is true that heat kills pathogens, but only if kept in a safe temperature range after being cooked. While a food thermometer is not required, it is recommended to ensure the utmost safety.

• Idea: pack any drinks in a separate cooler, so the cooler with the food will not be opened continuously being exposed to outdoor temperatures.

• Reminder: The most at risk for experiencing a foodborne illness are older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, so take extra care when picnicking with any of these groups.

With all of the above in mind, enjoy the warm summer months, enjoy the outdoors and enjoy picnic season!

For more tips on how to keep your picnic safe and fun please check out our Facebook page, Richland County Nutrition Coalition ( or check out our Pinterest page at


Reader Comments(0)