Food safety tips to keep your picnic from being spoiled

Getting everything ready for a great weekend of picnics and barbecues needs a quick review of some basic food safety practices.

As the first summer holiday approaches and you and your family are getting everything ready for a great weekend of picnics and barbeques a quick review of some basic food safety practices will help keep the food safe and foodborne illness away.

Once you have decided on a menu and bought all the food you need, remember to return home and promptly refrigerate your food. Place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately and keep them in a dish or pan that is about two inches deep. This will prevent any juices from cross-contaminating other foods, especially ready to eat foods that will not be cooked before serving. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in one or two days; freeze other meat within four to five days

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following food safety tips from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  • Completely thaw meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. For quicker thawing, you can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.”
  • Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. Poultry and cubed meat or stew meat can be marinated up to 2 days. Beef, veal, pork, and lamb roasts, chops, and steaks may be marinated up to 5 days. If some of the marinade is to be used as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it. However, if the marinade used on raw meat or poultry is to be reused, make sure to let it come to a boil first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
  • Whether travelling to a special picnic spot or gathering in your own yard, keep cold food cold to protect it from bacteria and pathogens.
  • Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use. Only take out the meat and poultry that will immediately be placed on the grill. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter. Avoid opening the lid too often, which lets cold air out and warm air in. Pack beverages in one cooler and perishables in a separate cooler.

Follow these guidelines to help keep food safe and your family free from foodborne illnesses, so that all can enjoy the summer gatherings.

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