Two families making a toast at picnic at a table in a park

June 18 is International Picnic Day!

Not to be a Debbie Downer, but did you know that 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illness? That’s when food is improperly stored or not kept at the proper temperature. So with that mind, how many times have you been to a picnic and someone thinks it’s OK to keep the potato salad out all day? Exactly! That’s a bad time waiting to happen!

As we’re in full picnic swing, we found a few tips that the Federal Food and Drug Administration offered to keep your picnic from being a memorable event for all the wrong reasons! So before you head out to the park or campsite, read these tips first:

The Cooler

  • Keep your cold food cold.That means place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Meat, poultry and seafood can be packed while still frozen.
  • Separate food and drinks.The main reason to have two locations is that with drinks people are often grabbing into the cooler. And with every opening of the cooler lid — it brings down the food temperatures.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Raw meats should be securely wrapped and away from anything that might be eaten raw such as fruits and veggies.

The Picnic Site

  • Make sure you can clean your hands. If you think you might be at a site that doesn’t have easy access to running water, bring a water jug, soap and paper towels, or bring disposable towelettes.
  • Keep utensils and serving dishes clean. When prepping your food, be sure you’re not placing cooked food on the same dish the raw food was on. The same idea goes with any utensils.
  • Double check the grill. If you use a grill brush, the bristles can break off. Take the time to make sure the grill is clean.
  • Cook to the perfect temperature. Bring a food thermometer with you and know the temperature that meat, poultry or seafood should be served. Download the complete chart»
  • Keep “ready” food hot. Grilled food can be kept hot until served by moving it to the side of the grill rack, just away from the coals. This keeps the food hot and prevents overcooking.

While the Picnic is Going On

  • Two-hour rule.Once you have served cold or hot food, it should only be out no longer than 2 hours, and if the outdoor temperature is over 90 F, then it’s only 1 hour. If it’s been out past two hours, throw it out. Use your phone’s timer to set a reminder.
  • Keep it on ice.Foods such as chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice, or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and frequently replace the ice.
  • Keep it hot. Until it’s served, place hot foods in an insulated container.

For these and other tips, download this handy guide by the FDA»

And, as always, if you’re looking for any foods to add to your picnic — we have them.

Come visit us Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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