Your Guide to Safe Picnics
Warm summer days often lead to dreams of relaxing picnics with family and friends. But remember – with higher temperatures come risks that can be easily avoided. Ensure that your only nuisances are a few ants by following these tips.
Packing foods properly is key
Nasty bacteria thrive in warm temperatures and can grow quickly in your picnic treats. You can bypass any problems by choosing the rights foods and handling them carefully.
Raw meats, including seafood, should be surrounded by ice or gel packs. And to stop meat juices from leaking onto your other foods, place them at the bottom of the cooler. Salads, desserts and others foods that need to be cold can go on top of the ice or gel packs.
For hot foods, preheated thermoses are ideal containers. You can also wrap hot foods in towels and carry them in an insulated container or a heavy box.
Aim to keep your foods at the right temperature for as long as possible. Pack just before leaving and never let food sit out for more than an hour.
You can reduce food's exposure to warm temperatures by taking at least two coolers. One cooler can hold all beverages. The other cooler, with the perishable foods, can be opened only when needed.
Picnic site defense
Choose a site near trees or a covered shelter. Not only can you escape the sun, you will be able to keep your coolers in the shade.
One of the most important steps to reducing the spread of germs is using separate plates for cooked and raw meats. Also, make sure you fully cook meats all at once so that you kill the bacteria. Letting partly cooked meat sit around only encourages bacteria's growth. And tempting as it may be, don't reuse a marinade as a sauce for your cooked meats.
Chill and hydrate
Summertime picnics come with the possibility of dehydration. Even when you are lounging in the shade, you can sweat, losing fluids that your body needs. While anyone can fall victim to dehydration, seniors and young children are most susceptible to its dangers.
Feeling thirsty is actually a signal that you are already dehydrated. The secret is to keep taking in liquids throughout your picnic. Chilled watermelon and icy popsicles are easy ways to entice kids and adults to stay hydrated.
Be aware there are two types of liquids that cause water loss – alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Because they can quickly lead to dehydration, you should only use them in moderation and with other liquids.
Ensuring that your next picnic is fun, tasty and safe is easy. Remember to pack, cook and hydrate right, and you will be on your way to beating the heat.
Sources: Mayo Clinic; U.S. Food and Drug Administration