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Picnic foods - how do you keep them safe to eat? The following information may help
you during the hot summer months.
Nashville, Ark. – Many people enjoy picnics during the warm summer months and Fourth
of July cookouts. Unfortunately, warm temperatures also allow bacteria to grow more
easily in food. Therefore, it is important to plan for safety when eating outdoors.
Keep in mind, perishable foods that have been out longer than two hours
should be discarded to reduce the risk of contacting a food borne illness. If the
weather is very warm, perishable foods should be discarded after one hour.
When picnicking in the yard or near the house, foods should be kept in
the refrigerator until ready to prepare and serve. If the picnic will be away from
home, foods should be kept in an ice chest that is the right size for the amount of
food to be carried.
To safely include meats with a picnic meal, put raw meat, fish, and poultry
in plastic bags before placing them in the ice chest. This will prevent the juices
of these products from contacting and possibly contaminating other foods, such as
produce, which may be eaten without cooking. It is a good idea to keep raw meat products
in a separate ice chest from other foods to help prevent cross-contamination.
Foods will stay at their best if the ice chest is kept as cold as possible.
Freezer packs or plastic bags of ice are best to pack around food to keep it cold.
You might consider using a separate ice chest for soft drinks, since this chest is
usually opened frequently.
When driving to the picnic site, transport the ice chest in the body of
the car, since this area is cooler than the trunk. Once at the picnic site, the ice
chest should be kept in the shade.
When cooking food outdoors, take precautions to assure that the food is
thoroughly cooked. Solid pieces of meat, such as steaks and chops, can be eaten rare,
but should be cooked long enough to assure they are well-heated on the surface. Hot
dogs should be steaming hot throughout. Ground beef and poultry should be cooked thoroughly
to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature can be measured using a meat thermometer.
Eating outdoors offers special challenges in making sure everything that
comes in contact with the food is clean.
If running water is available, wash hands before handling food and again
anytime they touch something unclean. Baby wipes or liquid hand sanitizers may be
used as an alternative to soap and water. Utensils and dishes used with raw meat,
fish, and poultry should be washed before being used with cooked foods or foods that
will be eaten without cooking. If running water will not be available, take extra
utensils and dishes so there is no need to use the same ones for raw and for cooked
Once back in the kitchen, remove food from the ice chest and refrigerate
immediately. Any food that is of questionable safety should be discarded.
Picnickers should wash ice chests thoroughly, especially if they contained
raw meat, poultry, or fish; and allow them to air dry before placing them in storage.
Assuring safe food is a greater challenge when eating outdoors. However,
with a little extra care and planning, you can have safe meals while enjoying the
For more information about outdoor food safety, please contact the Howard
County Extension Office located on the second floor of the courthouse, call me at
870-845-7517 or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the U of A Division of Agriculture.
This recipe was demonstrated at the Farmer’s Market this past week. It
uses blueberries and cucumbers, both of which are plentiful right now at the market.
The dressing for this salad may be a bit tangy for some people. Cut back on the lime
juice or add just a little more sugar or honey!
1 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 medium cucumber, cut into small chunks
4 cups fresh arugula or spring mix lettuce
¼ medium red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup crumbled reduced-fat Feta cheese
2 tablespoons coarsley chopped walnuts (toasted optional)
In a small bowl whisk together vinaigrette ingredients.
Yield: 4 servings
Nutrition Information per Serving: Calories – 212, Total fat – 10g, Sodium – 368mg,
Protein – 7g, Calcium – 143mg, Iron 1mg, Fiber – 4g, Potassium - 303mg
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff Chair U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.