Bev Walpole of the St. Thomas Times-Journal reports that as summer approaches and we begin to think of picnics, there are several things we should keep in mind so that we don’t have to add a bout of food poisoning to our memories of the event.
When planning your menu, choose foods that are less perishable, such as washed, fresh fruit, vegetables, breads, processed cheese or boxed drinks. Keep perishable foods like potato or macaroni salad, hot dogs, lunchmeat, cooked beef or chicken on ice packs in a cooler.
Avoid bringing hot foods. If you plan to barbecue at your picnic, keep raw meats separate from cooked foods, preferably in another cooler. Make sure all meats are well cooked. Be sure to bring enough utensils and trays so you don’t have to use the same ones that touched raw foods to handle cooked food. Most meat is cooked at 74 C.
Make sure cold foods stay cold. Use freezer packs to maintain the foods you will place inside below 4 C (40 F). You can even freeze boxes of juice or bottles of water to use as freezer packs. It’s a good idea to use a separate cooler for drinks. It will be opened more frequently, and will warm up faster.
When you travel to the picnic site, keep the coolers inside the cabin of your vehicle where it is air-conditioned. Trunks become quite warm. When you reach your destination, remove the cooler from the vehicle and place it in the shade. It’s best to eat your main meal as soon as possible after you arrive at the site, and save non-perishable foods and snacks for later on.
Remember to wash your hands. If there is no running water available, use a gel hand sanitizer, or moist towelette.
Some extra words of caution while you are picnicking. Do not drink water from lakes, streams or springs; bring water from home or use bottled water. Wear a hat, and apply a sunscreen of SPF 30 or more. If you see wildlife, watch it only from a distance. Place garbage or trash in containers provided. If there are none, take it to the nearest place you can dispose of it safely. Leave only footprints behind. The only souvenirs of your day that you should take home are photographs and memories.