Cooking For A Crowd
Safe Picnicking
Recipes for Quantity Cooking

Safe Picnicking

Picnics and other outside parties can be lots of fun as long as you plan for the situation. You can't be too careful when handling and packaging food for cooking and eating outdoors. Summer heat increases the chance of bacterial growth in foods, and bacteria are more likely to grow in foods that are high in protein and moisturemeats, poultry, seafood, dairy products and egg dishes. Here are some helpful reminders on how to keep your food safe and tasty.

The three most important things to remember about serving picnic foods are:

Keep HOT foods HOT!
Hold hot cooked foods between 140F and 165F until serving time. Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly below 140F. When food is cooked to temperatures of 165F to 212F, most food-poisoning bacteria is killed. The higher the heat, the less time it takes to kill bacteria.

Keep COLD foods COLD!
Cold food should be held at 40F or colder. Harmful bacteria can multiply quickly above 40F. Cold temperatures keep most harmful bacteria from growing and multiplying. Freezing at 0F prevents additional bacteria growth.

Follow the 2-Hour Rule

The absolute maximum time for leaving prepared foods at room temperature is 2 hours-including time for preparation, serving and eating. Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. If you are eating outdoors at a picnic or cookout where temperatures are over 90F, discard foods after 1 hour.

Here are a few more tips to help keep your picnic food safe:

A well insulated cooler packed with ice or reusable cold paks is a fine alternative to a refrigerator.

Make sure the foods you pack in the cooler, whether purchased or made at home, have been kept below 40F.

Open the cooler as infrequently as possible to retain cold air.

Although it may look nice to set all of the food out on the picnic table, it is safer to leave cold foods in the cooler until right before eating.

Wash your hand thoroughly before and after handling food. Clean your cutting surfaces and utensils with hot, soapy water after each use.

Thaw and marinate meats, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator - not at room temperature.

Cook meat, poultry, and seafood thoroughly. Don't start to cook, then stop, intending to finish later, as bacteria grow faster in partially cooked food.

Eat hot, grilled foods immediately and serve on clean plates.

Any food that has been left out on a picnic table or in a cooler with melting ice for more than 2 hours must be discarded.

Source: Whole Foods

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