June 30, 2008


Summer is a time for picnics. Plan and pack wisely and it will be fun for all.

Warm weather increases the risk of food poisoning because the organisms responsible grow faster at warm temperatures. Foods left at warm temperatures for more than two hours may cause food poisoning and should be composted. High protein foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and certain dairy products, and many traditional picnic salads such as potato, macaroni, egg, and the like are particularly susceptible.

Here are some safe picnicking suggestions:

* A wicker picnic basket may look lovely, but a well-insulated ice chest with ample ice is more reliable as it will keep foods cold enough to slow bacterial growth for several hours.
* Keep the cooler in the shade and replenish the ice as necessary.
* Keep foods that would normally be stored in the refrigerator cold.
* Prepare susceptible foods at the picnic rather than ahead of time.
* Pack frozen sandwiches or refrigerate sandwich fillings and make sandwiches on site as needed.
* Foods on the generally safe list include: fresh fruits and vegetables; peanut butter (alone or with jelly); hard cheeses; bean, grain and vegetable salads in oil and vinegar; hard-cooked eggs in their shells; unopened canned tuna, salmon or sardines; yogurt; nuts; dried foods; cookies, fruit pies, and cakes that don’t have whipped cream or custard.
* Foods to avoid unless they can be kept cold are: cream cheese or cottage cheese; milk; salad sandwich fillings such as meat, fish, or egg; pates and other chopped or ground meats; cooked casseroles; cakes, pies and pastries containing whipped cream, custard, meringue or cream fillings.
* After the meal, put leftovers back in the ice chest right away.

Did You Know...?
Misconceptions about food safety are common. An estimated 76 million people contract foodborne illnesses each year in the United States and for over 9,000 of them it will be fatal.

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