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Summer Picnic Food Safety

Whether you’re hosting or a guest bringing a dish, it is imperative you ensure family and friends remain safe from a foodborne illness. The chaos of summer cookout kitchens only begets opportunities for bacteria to contaminate the food you’re preparing. Taking steps to follow food safety precautions can mean the difference between a fun-filled summer picnic season and being sick for days.

Follow these tips from the Partnership for Food Safety Education and visit the Food Safety page on to learn more:

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  • Wash hands properly — scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. If running water is not available, opt for hand wipes and use frequently.
  • Wash food prep surfaces before, during and after preparing food with a clean cloth.
  • Use clean knives, cutting boards, pans, plates and food storage containers.
  • Rinse fruits and vegetables — regardless of their rind — under running water prior to preparing.
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  • NEVER wash raw meat before preparing it. Bacteria from the raw meat can splatter over your sink, faucet, countertops and on you! Cooking meat properly will kill harmful bacteria.
  • Prepare raw meat, poultry, seafood and unpasteurized raw eggs on their own surfaces and cutting boards, and with their own utensils.
  • Place raw meat in its own bag at the bottom of your refrigerator and cooler in case juices leak.
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  • Hold hot foods at 140°F or higher while serving with heated chaffing dishes or slow cookers.
  • Verify food is properly cooked with an instant-read food thermometer — NOT by how it looks, feels or tastes. Follow current recommended internal cooking temperatures:
    • Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures — Beef, Pork, Veal and Lamb 160°F; Turkey and Chicken 165°F
    • Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb and Pork —145°F with a 3 minute resting period
    • Poultry — Chicken, Turkey, Duck and Goose 165°F
    • Seafood — Fin Fish 145°F
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  • Hold cold foods below 40°F while serving in ice baths or in frozen, insulated containers.
  • Do not keep food out longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if the outside temperature is 90°F or greater.
  • Store food promptly in small, shallow food containers in a refrigerator at 40°F or below.

Be Food Safe cartoon characters used with permission from the United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety Inspection Service –