Going on a picnic? Follow these simple food safety tips to ensure it doesn’t end with a bad case of food poisoning.

Picnic food safety tips

I Pack your coolers so that the foods you plan on using last are at the bottom, and those you plan to eat first are near the top. This allows foods to stay at their proper temperatures longer.

2. Keep dishes separate. Packing hot and cold foods together raises the temperature inside the cooler, potentially leading to bacterial growth. You want to try and keep cold foods below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and hot dishes above 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Also, do not store raw meat near other dishes that won’t be cooked, such as vegetables or pastas, as it could cause cross-contamination by bacteria.

3. Put leftovers back in the cooler immediately after eating, and toss any items that were out for more than 2 hours.

4. Wait until everyone is ready to eat before setting out the meal, since the longer it sits out, the greater the risk for spoilage.

5. Pack the hand sanitizer! You can’t always count on having a place to wash up, so come prepared, if not with hand sanitizer, then with a wet soapy washcloth in a reseal able tub or plastic bag.

6. “Use by” dates, which food safety experts promote as a way to suggest a food might no longer be safe to eat, should really only be applied to ready-to-eat foods such as sushi, meat spreads, prepared sandwiches, salads, and other deli items Even when refrigerated, these items can grow pathogens that

Experts say that a brief visual inspection and a sniff are better indicators of spoilage than expiration dates, especially for products like bread and baked goods, canned items, and even poultry, meats and seafood that are meant to be cooked prior to being eaten. You should consider these dates “best by” dates that offer rough guidelines only, and should go ahead and use it so long as nothing seems amiss. Canned foods are usually safe for several years, so long as they have not been exposed to extreme tem peratures or other hazards.

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