Picnics are without a doubt a summer staple. But to make sure your guests leave with a smile on their face and not an upset stomach here are some tips from the Food and Drug Administration to avoid foodborne illnesses at your cookout.
The most important thing is to keep foods out of the "Danger Zone." That's between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour if outdoor temperatures are above 90 degrees F. That's the window when bacteria can multiply rapidly, which in turn can lead to foodborne illnesses.
Ways to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Cold perishable food should be kept in the cooler at 40° F or below until serving time.
Once you've served it, it should not sit out for longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90° F. If it does - discard it.
Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice, or in a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off water as ice melts and replace ice frequently.
Hot food should be kept hot, at or above 140° F.
Wrap it well and place it in an insulated container until serving.
Just as with cold food - these foods should not sit out for more than 2 hours, or 1 hour in temperatures above 90° F. If food is left out longer, throw it away to be safe.
If you're grill it's important to prevent cross-contamination. This means when serving Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving — unless they’ve been washed first in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, you can spread bacteria from the raw juices to your cooked or ready-to-eat food.
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