10 Rules for Keeping Food Safe Outdoors
Food-borne illnesses are no picnic, so prepare your food the proper way
5) Invest in a meat thermometer.
The time frame necessary to cook foods thoroughly on a grill may be
different from your stove at home. "A meat thermometer is the best way to
be sure you have cooked foods adequately," says DuBois.
Unfortunately, people aren't always going to take the time to check
hamburgers on the barbecue with a thermometer, says Slade, who is also an
associate professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Hamburger meat can
be very risky if not handled properly. Unlike a steak, hamburger meat is
chopped and reduced, and the bacteria may get internalized, says Slade.
"Once you sear a steak on the outside, it tends to be safe. This isn't the
case with hamburger, which needs to be cooked until the meat in the middle is
Hamburgers aren't the only foods that should be thoroughly cooked -- eggs
shouldn't be runny, hot dogs should be piping hot, and chicken shouldn't be
pink in the middle. Also, don't partially pre-cook meats or poultry to
"finish off" later, which may facilitate bacterial growth, and remember
to defrost meat or poultry in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
6) Tell your kids about food safety.
When you teach your kids about safety, don't forget to tell them the rules
about how to handle foods. "It's very important that children learn from a
very early age about the importance of hand washing and that they are aware
that foods can make them ill if they aren't properly handled," says
7) Enjoy non-perishable snacks.
Don't let a lack of snacks spoil your fun. If you're planning to be outside
for a while, bring some non-perishable foods. Nuts, chips, peanut butter,
breads, and granola bars are all examples of foods that won't spoil and are
easy to transport.
8) Play it safe with leftovers.
If you plan on enjoying leftovers for days to come, don't keep food sitting
out for two hours repeatedly, which Slade says may cause problems. Instead,
remove the portion you want and return leftover containers to the fridge
promptly, and freeze portions you don't plan on eating in the near future.