Picnics are an essential part of summer fun. It is always relaxing to get outdoors and enjoy your friends and family while indulging in each other’s cooking. Picnics are a great way to capitalize on fresh air and sunshine which, depending where you live, are not always available.
If you are planning a picnic, here are a few things you need to know beforehand about food safety.
How Long Is Food Safe?
Every type of food has different rules when it comes to storage and maintenance. Some foods are safe to be eaten even when sitting out for hours at a time, and even overnight. Other foods are touchy, need to be kept at a certain temperature, and risk going bad quickly when stored otherwise.
Bacteria grows the best between 40 and 140 degrees F, and if you leave food out longer than two hours you run the risk of ending up with a bad case of food poisoning. If the temperature outside is hotter than 90 degrees, food should not be out longer than one hour.
Another important thing to remember is that food that has been sitting out should never be put back in the fridge or used again, but instead should be thrown out. When deciding how long food can sit out, be sure to include the driving time it took to get to the function.
How to Prolong Food’s Shelf Life and Other Food Safety Tips
Plan ahead on how to store any kind of food you are taking to a picnic. Even if the food is normally fine in room temperature, picnics tend to expose it to more heat than normal, along with sunshine and various bugs and other contaminants.
Always take containers that have lids to be used when no one is using it, as this will help with proper heat control and assist in keeping germs out. When a food requires refrigeration, be sure to keep it either in a thermos that will keep it cool, or on ice. Be sure to take proper utensils to avoid a situation where individuals begin using their own cutlery to remove the food from the dish.
Foods to Pick
Most fruits and vegetables don’t require refrigeration. Along with the fact that they are healthy and contain numerous vitamins and minerals, this makes them a great choice for picnics. Bread may dry out a little, but tends to be fine with varying temperatures. Hard cheese lasts fairly well, as long as the sun isn’t shining directly on it.
Foods to Ditch
Some of the worst foods to take on a picnic include anything with meat, because of the dangers of it going bad. Although potato salad seems to make it to almost every picnic, it is a poor choice - not only because of the eggs, but the mayonnaise can go bad very quickly as well. Keep an eye open for any foods that contain serious health threats due to compromised storage temperature, or ingredients that do not hold up well in extreme conditions.
Picnics can be great fun, because what is better than fresh air, sunshine, exercise and some great food to indulge in with friends? Food safety, however, must always be kept at the forefront. With a little knowledge and a bit of pre-planning, you can make your next picnic both delicious and incident-free.