The best part about summer is spending time outdoors. Perhaps you’ve enjoyed a picnic in the backyard, a cookout around the campfire, or a barbecued dish on the grill. Did you know that warmer weather causes bacteria to multiply faster? This can lead to an increase in foodborne illnesses, putting a damper on your summer plans. Follow these helpful tips from the FDA when you choose to eat outdoors:
- Keep cold food cold. Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40 °F or below to prevent bacterial growth. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” — between 40 °F and 140 °F — for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 °F. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.
- Keep the cooler closed! Once at your destination, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold longer.
- Be sure to keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood securely wrapped. This keeps their juices from contaminating prepared/cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
- Clean your produce. Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler — including those with skins and rinds that are not eaten. Rub firm-skinned fruits and vegetables under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water. Dry fruits and vegetables with a clean cloth towel or paper towel.
- Clean your hands and surfaces just as you would at home.If you don’t have access to running water, use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands. Be sure to keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing and serving food.
You might not originally think of cantaloupe as an ingredient for salsa, but don’t count it out until you’ve tried it! It’s a nice sweet salsa with a kick. Enjoy!
Candi Merritt & Becky Egli
Certified Nutrition Education Ambassadors