How to Pack a Safe Picnic

Who doesn’t love a delicious picnic on a warm day? When planning your menu and packing your goodies, don’t forget those food bugs love picnics, too! Here’s a rundown on how to pack a safe outdoor meal. By: Toby Amidor, MS, RD

How to Pack a Safe Picnic

High Risk Foods

Microorganisms love to grow on moist, high protein and carbohydrate-based foods that aren’t too acidic. Many of the foods we tote along on our picnics are the perfect environment to support the growth of these pathogens. Some of these foods include raw or cooked meats and poultry, cheese and other dairy products, and prepared salads like cole slaw, potato salad, and pasta salad.

At Home Preparation

Keeping food safe for a picnic begins at home. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Transporting Food

When you’re transporting food to the picnic, it’s important to monitor both time and temperature. This means storing high-risk foods like hamburgers, hot dogs, cheese, chicken, steaks, and salads in a cooler packed with ice. Store it in the back seat of an air-conditioned car as opposed to outside in the back of a truck. Cooked food that will be served warm should be stored in insulated containers.

If you’re going to barbecue food on site, then you’ll need an additional cooler. Raw meats and poultry should be stored separately from beverages, hot dog buns, prepared salads and other such food to avoid cross-contamination. Wrap raw meats in plastic bags to prevent leakage, too.

Think ahead if a restroom with soap and water is available at the picnic site. If not, be sure to pack moist towelettes and hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

At The Picnic

Your food temperatures are under control and raw meats are separated from the rest of the goodies—but there are still dangers that lurk ahead. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

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