Keep your picnic safe: Food safety tips while out this summer | TheUnion.com

Keep your picnic safe: Food safety tips while out this summer

Submitted to The Union

Summer is here, and that means picnics, barbecues, and long hot days. The food safety rules that you follow at home are just as important at your outside gatherings.

Also, keep in mind that bacteria grow more quickly in warm weather. By following these tips, you can ensure your foods will be safe for family and friends:

Keep cold foods cold. Use a cooler with frozen ice packs or blocks of ice to store cold foods at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Don't have ice packs? Fill a gallon zip lock bag with water and freeze it flat.

Wash up. Wash your hands with soap and warm water before preparing or eating food and after handling raw meat.

Don't cross-contaminate. Securely wrap raw meat, so the juices do not contaminate ready to eat foods. Don't use the same cutting board or knife for raw meat and produce unless it has been thoroughly washed first.

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Also, wash any plates and utensils used to marinate raw meat before reusing.

Time is of the essence. Food should not be left out for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

When food is in the "Danger Zone" — between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit — bacteria can double every 20 minutes.

Don't spoil your fun with a foodborne illness. Remember — when in doubt, throw it out! For more food safety information, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov.

For more nutrition or program information, please call 530-889-7350 or visit http://ucanr.edu/sites/letseathealthy.

Source: University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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