Safe Food To Go

Coolers can be so heavy. Is it safe to take all our food in a picnic basket and just get ice at the picnic site?

If you are traveling longer than two hours, you need to use a cooler. The first food packed in the cooler should be the last food you will use. The exception to this rule is to pack meat at the bottom of the cooler. Remember to have plenty of ice or freezer gel-packs in the cooler since food needs to be cold- less than 40°F while transporting to picnics.

When packing food in a cooler, remember that a full cooler will stay cold longer than a partially packed cooler. However, take only the amount of food you will need for that event. Extra space in the cooler should be filled with ice.

If it is very hot outside, don’t put the cooler in the trunk and never leave your cooler in the sun at the picnic site.

picnicWhen getting meat ready for the picnic, double wrap meat to prevent juices from dripping into the cooler. Raw meat can be stored in the refrigerator for a day or two until picnic time. Frozen meat can be transported in the cooler and cooked at the picnic site.

Plan to cook or reheat meat by packing a stove or charcoal for grilling. However, pre-cooked, take-out meat like fried chicken or barbeque should be eaten within two hours of pick-up, or cooled to an appropriate temperature.

Remember that handwashing is important on your picnic - Bring soap and water if necessary.

Grilling Safely

grillingEveryone has their own grilling style, but for optimal heat production, allow coals to burn for 20 to 30 minutes before starting to cook meat. Coals should be lightly covered with ash before you begin to grill. Turn meat at least once during grilling. Check meat for doneness with a meat thermometer.

If cooking a large amount of food, do it in batches as it is needed. Do not cook it all at once and try to hold it for a long period of time. The meat may not be safe and the quality will be poor.

Keeping Picnic Leftovers Safe

If you plan to take leftovers home from the picnic, place leftovers in the cooler on ice promptly. Any meat left out of the cooler for more than an hour should be thrown away.

Check the cooler when you get home. Make sure there is ice present and meat is cool to the touch if you intend to keep it. If in doubt, throw it out!