Safe summer feasts - A guide to food safety outdoors

May 22, 2024


As summer kicks off and outdoor gatherings become the norm, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service reminds everyone to prioritize food safety. Foodborne illness can put a damper on any summer fun, but following these simple tips ensures a safe and enjoyable experience.

Cleanliness is Key -

Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. If running water isn't available, pack hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Pack Cool and Safe -

Transporting perishable food? Pack coolers with ice or frozen gel packs to maintain a temperature below 40°F (4°C). Pack beverages in a separate cooler to avoid frequent temperature fluctuations. Keep coolers out of direct sunlight.

Temperature Matters -

Bacteria thrive between 40°F (4°C) and 140°F (60°C), known as the "danger zone." Keep cold foods cold with proper refrigeration or ice packs. Maintain hot foods above 140°F (60°C) using grills, chafing dishes, or slow cookers. Use a thermometer to regularly check temperatures.

Two Hours or Less - 

Foods left at room temperature for more than two hours (one hour if above 90°F) are unsafe to eat. Discard any questionable items – "when in doubt, throw it out!"

By following these USDA food safety guidelines, you can ensure your summer cookouts and picnics are filled with delicious food and happy memories.

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