Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial kickoff to summer. And picnics can be a fun way to start the summer season. But improper handling of the food can mean trouble in the form of foodborne germs. Before you fill your cooler, review these tips for safer picnics.
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Please courtesy: "Mayo Clinic News Network." Read the script.
Picnic tip No. 1: When you open the cooler, keep an eye on the clock.
"The general rule is to have food out only two hours," says Kate Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist. "However, on a hot day – 90 [degrees Fahrenheit] and above – you want to limit the time that food is out in that hot weather to one hour."
She adds, "You might even consider a bowl of ice. And, then, sit your food container in that ice. That can help maintain a cool temperature."
Picnic tip No. 2: Pay special attention to proteins.
"Bacteria like protein," says Zeratsky.
So keep meat cold until it hits the grill. Then, use a meat thermometer to make sure it’s cooked to a safe temperature. At least 160 degrees [degrees Fahrenheit] for ground meats and 165 [degrees Fahrenheit] for poultry.
Picnic tip No. 3: Shield your sweets, including the ones from Mother Nature.
"Fruit, with its natural sugars, is going to attract some bugs," says Zeratsky. "So you might want to keep it covered."
And picnic tip No. 4: Better to be safe than sorry.
"When in doubt, throw it out. You don’t want anyone to get sick.”