With warmer temperatures, it’s important to keep food safety tips in mind.
Here are a few good rules to follow:
• Have two sets of cutting boards, cooking utensils and platters – one for uncooked foods and the other for cooked foods.
• Use a meat thermometer to make sure you are cooking meat and poultry to proper temperatures.
• Prevent the spread of bacteria by washing fruits and vegetables before putting them in a basket or cooler, or placing on a serving platter.
• Use clean foil, plastic wrap and resealable bags to store leftovers. Don’t reuse what you used on uncooked food.
• If you won’t have access to soap and water at a picnic, bring along moist towelettes, antibacterial hand cleanser, bleach wipes or a spray bottle with soapy water.
• Use nestled bowls to serve cold items, filling the larger with ice and using the smaller as the actual serving bowl.
• Fill unusual containers with ice and place cold dishes inside. A red wagon is the perfect way to serve up a trio of salads, especially on the 4th of July!
• Hot foods should be eaten within two hours of being made.
• Food should not stand out longer than two hours and on a day when the temperature is above 85 degrees, one hour is the maximum.
• When packing coolers, wrap raw meat, poultry and fish in air-tight resealable plastic bags or containers and keep separated from cooked foods, fruits and veggies.
• Think about taking a separate cooler for beverages, as it gets opened frequently and makes it difficult to maintain a cool temperature.
• Thoroughly chill cold foods and beverages before putting into a cooler.
• Pre-chill your cooler by adding a bit of ice about an hour before you are ready to pack it.
• Transport hot foods in a separate insulated cooler. Wrap in newspaper or dishtowels and pack tightly in a cooler surrounded by more newspaper or dish towels. You can also heat bricks and place in the cooler to keep hot foods hot. Remove the bricks and put under dishes to keep warm while serving.
• A full cooler will stay colder longer than a partially filled one. If your food doesn’t fill the cooler, add more ice.
• If you are traveling a distance, insulate coolers even more by wrapping in blankets or sleeping bags. If possible, avoid putting in the trunk.
• If possible, replenish ice as it melts. If you don’t have access to more, keep the water in the cooler. It works almost as well as ice.