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Summer Food Safety Advice

In hot weather, food should never sit out for more than one hour.

Summer means lots of outdoor eating. So when you break out that special equipment for your next picnic, cookout, or camping trip, don't forget these important rules for summertime food safety.

Planning the menu

  • Plan to take only the amounts of food that you'll use on your outing.
  • With a cooler and ice, most foods are safe for short periods.
  • Salads with store-bought mayonnaise are safe, if kept cold.
  • Avoid creamy or custard foods.
  • If a cooler isn't an option, take fruits, vegetables, hard cheese, canned or dried meats or fish, dry cereal, bread, peanut butter, or crackers.


Packing it up

  • Always use an insulated cooler.
  • Include a cold source in the cooler. Use ice, ice packs, frozen water or juice, frozen foods such as hamburgers and ribs, or cold fruit.
  • Take along disposable washcloths.
  • Plan to keep hot foods hot with a thermos or insulated dish.
  • Use a thermos to keep chilled soups or milk cold.


On the road

  • Place the ice chest in the passenger area of the car. It's much cooler than the trunk in the summertime.
  • Keep the cooler in the shade.
  • Keep the lid on, and avoid repeated openings.
  • Replenish the ice if it begins to melt. Drain water if necessary.


Heat & eat

  • Keep food cold until cooking on the grill.
  • Cook completely at the picnic site: no partial or precooking ahead.
  • Cook thoroughly: Meat and poultry should not be pink, juices should run clear, and fish should flake with a fork.
  • Use a fresh plate for serving cooked food.
  • Be careful that raw meat juices don't touch other food.


Come & get it

  • In hot weather, food should never sit out for more than an hour.
  • Serve smaller portions, so food doesn't stay out of the cooler too long.
  • Serve food quickly from the cooler, and place leftover food inside the cooler immediately after serving.



  • Leftovers? If there's still ice in the cooler when you get home, and the food didn't sit out at the picnic, the food is okay to save.


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