How to Have a Pic. and not to Get Sick


pic_cThere is nothing more American than the picnic. Picnics can take on many forms, such as the community picnic, friends and neighbors, tailgate parties, or ball games. There is also one sure thing at every picnic-lots of good food. The important point is to have safe and healthy food, not food that can cause food borne illness. Always prepare and store food properly.

* As always, wash hands and work areas before preparing food.

* Plan your menu with an eye to safe food handling. Cook foods in plenty of time to thoroughly chill them in shallow containers in the refrigerator.

* Have enough coolers with ice or frozen gel packs in which to store the perishable foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs and salads. You want to keep the food at 40 degrees F. Pack foods right from the refrigerator into the coolers.

* Don't put the cooler in the car trunk; Carry it inside an air-conditioned car. At picnics, keep the cooler in the shade and keep the lid closed. Replenish the ice if it melts.

* Use a separate cooler for drinks so the one containing the food won't constantly be opened and closed.

* Find out if there's a source of safe drinking water at your destination. If not, bring water for preparation and cleaning; or pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling, and serving food is a prime cause of food borne illness.

* Pack raw meats, poultry, or seafood on the bottom of the cooler. This will reduce the risk of them dripping on other foods. Pack coolers until they are full. A full cooler will stay cold longer than one that is partially full.

* If you plan on getting takeout foods such as fried chicken, Eat them within an hour of pick up.

* Do not partially grill extra meat or poultry to use later. Once you begin, cook until completely done to assure bacteria are destroyed. Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink. Hamburger should not be pink in the center.

* When taking food off the grill, Don't put the cooked items on the same platter which held the raw meat unless you have washed the platter in between uses.

* Two Hour Rule. Don't leave perishable food un-refrigerated for more than two hours. Put perishable foods back in the cooler or refrigerator as soon as you finish eating. Don't leave them out while you go for a swim or a hike, and don't leave them out all afternoon to nibble on.

* Chances are, picnic leftovers have been sitting out for more than an hour or two. Discard these leftovers. Cold food that were kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe. If the ice has melted, the food should be discarded.

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