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Picnic Safety

Nutrition, From Our Kitchen

Rising temperatures and blooming flowers mean spring has sprung and more people are taking mealtime outside. These tips will help ensure your food stays fresh and safe for everyone to enjoy. What to pack Consider time and space when planning your outing. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, trail mix and crackers are simple options that don't require refrigeration. Vegetables like sliced bell peppers and carrots are easy finger foods. Berries, when in season, offer a sweet treat that requires little prep. Remember to wash your produce ahead of time. Temperature sensitive foods Deli meats and cheeses are great picnic options, but they must stay cool. You'll need an ice pack and an insulated cooler/lunch bag to retain the cold air if you want to pack these items. Don't have an ice pack? Freeze a water bottle overnight and place it in your bag just before heading out the door. Make sure items are wrapped tightly and separately to reduce risk of cross-contact. Avoid the Danger Zone! Food safety experts have determined any temperature between 40°F and 140ºF part of the "Danger Zone," meaning it's the ideal temperature range for bacteria to grow. Avoid these parameters by pulling out only what you need and keep the rest stored away. Cold foods should be kept at or below 40ºF until they're ready to be eaten and warm foods should be kept at or above 140ºF. When in doubt, throw it out! The general rule is any food left out more than two hours should be thrown away. That time decreases to just an hour if the outside temperature is above 90ºF.

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