Author: Shannon Miller
It’s important to follow food safety guidelines to prevent harmful bacteria from multiplying and causing food-borne illness. Here are some simple guidelines we can all use to keep picnic food safe and healthy:
From the Store
When shopping, buy cold food like meat and poultry last, right before checkout. Separate raw meat and poultry from other food in your shopping cart. Put packages of raw meat and poultry into plastic bags.
Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. Refrigerate within 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
At home, place meat and poultry in the refrigerator immediately. Freeze poultry and ground meat that won’t be used in 1 or 2 days; freeze other meat within 4 to 5 days.
Use the refrigerator for slow, safe thawing or thaw sealed packages in cold water. You can microwave defrost if the food will be placed immediately on the grill.
Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter. 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.
Keep it cold to minimize bacterial growth. Pack food right from the refrigerator into the cooler immediately before leaving home.
Keep Cold Food Cold
Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use.
Keep Hot Food Hot
After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer.
Keep Everything Clean
Be sure there are plenty of clean utensils and platters. To prevent food-borne illness, don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
Use a food thermometer to be sure the food has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
Serving the Food
When taking food off the grill, use a clean platter. Don’t put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry.
In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than 1 hour.
Last but not least, what to do with your Leftovers
Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers. Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 °F).
Do you have any other tips to share? Please add them as a comment.
If you found this article helpful, you might also want to read this related Shannon Miller Lifestyle article: Grilling Safety