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Summertime food safety

Any particular food safety tips for the summer? We'll spend some days where it is very warm.

From: Fiona, Scotland

What does summer mean to you? We hope that for you, as for most of those who love food, it means grilling and cooking out. Picnics, cookouts and family gatherings are all what make summer fun. When you host your next party, be sure that you use proper food safety measures.

Have you ever been ill from eating bad food? It wasn't pleasant, was it? If not, you then maybe you know someone who had food poisoning. When you prepare food outdoors or are away from commercial refrigeration, it is always important to properly pack and store your food items so that the party isn't over before it begins.

Picnic Food Safety Tips

Prepare as much at home as you can - This goes for picnics and cookouts in the park. If you can precook food like ribs or chicken (parboiling) then you are not dealing with raw meat. The heat of the day can turn meats bad faster than you would imagine. And, blood from raw meat can spread bacteria to surfaces and other food. No one wants to get salmonella or worse.

Keep cold foods cold - This is especially true of salads that contain mayonnaise. You don't want them warming up and getting rancid. Instead of large bowls that are hard to pack and keep cold, package macaroni, tuna and chicken salad in smaller containers that can be covered with ice and kept cold. Even better than ice are ice packs. Keep them in the freezer until use and layer them under, beside and over your foods.

Cover all foods when outside - Bees and flies, not to mention ants, are attracted to picnics. You don't want flies landing on the fruit salad all day. Just looking at it will make you sick, let alone eating it. Cover meat when cooked so it too is protected from pests.

Use enclosures when you can - Mosquito netting can help avoid pests from getting at your food and also keep your guests more comfortable. It also lowers the temperature where you are serving the food.

Change the menu - Instead of a lot of salads that can wilt or go bad in the heat, offer nuts and dried fruits to eat. They are packaged for easy carrying, especially to the park or when camping. If you like that sort of thing, try other dehydrated foods that don't need refrigeration.

Keep the hot food hot - Use a warmer bag to store grilled food. In hot weather, promptly refrigerate it after an hour or throw away the leftovers.

Bring wipes - A pop-up container of wipes can be used to clean hands after handling food on the grill and between meals to keep everything as bacteria free as possible. Use them to wipe up spills and clean surfaces.

Use a separate cooler for ice - Some people use the same ice for drinks that housed the drinks or the food. This can spread bacteria and is generally unsanitary. Use ice packs for food and ice for drinks.

You can apply these tips to any outdoor event with food, eating al fresco evening, community bbq, family grilling or full blown partuy. Planning on a little summer fun? Remember to keep the food safe so no one gets sick.