Picnic food guide: How to stay safe while eating outdoors

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If you are planning a picnic, barbeque, or meal under the summer sun, remember to practice social distancing, keep a 6 feet distance from those who you don't live with. It's important to be cautious, protecting yourself and others from a COVID-19 infection.

Also remember to pack your picnic basket with food safety in mind, as food-borne bacteria that cause food poisoning (also known as food-borne illness) multiply faster in warm weather.

Follow these tips by the US FDA to keep your food safe when eating outdoors:

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Before your picnic

• Defrost meat, poultry, and seafood in the refrigerator or by submerging sealed packages in cold water. You can also microwave-defrost, but only if the food will be grilled immediately afterward.

• Marinate foods in the fridge, not the counter-top. Never reuse marinade that touched raw foods unless you boil it first or set some of the marinades aside before marinating food to use for the sauce later.

• Wash all produce before eating, even if you plan to peel it. The knife you use to peel it can carry bacteria into the part you eat.

• Fruits and vegetables that are pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated or kept on ice to maintain quality and safety.

• If your picnic site doesn't offer clean water access, bring water or pack moist towels for cleaning surfaces and hands. Don't forget to pack a food thermometer.

Packing coolers

• Place food from the refrigerator directly into an insulated cooler immediately before leaving home.

• Use ice or ice packs to keep your cooler at 40 degree F or below.

• Pack raw meat, poultry, and seafood in a separate cooler, or wrap it securely and store at the bottom of the cooler where the juices can't drip onto other foods.

• Place beverages in a separate cooler; this will offer easy drink access while keeping perishable food coolers closed.

• Avoid loading coolers in the trunk of the car, as it can collect heat. Once at the picnic site, keep food in coolers until serving time (out of the direct sun) and avoid opening the lids often.

Grilling

• Have clean utensils and platters available. Cook meat, poultry, and seafood to the right temperatures – use a food thermometer to be sure. Keep cooked meats hot at 140 degrees F or warmer until serving time – set them to the side of the grill rack to keep them hot.

• When removing foods from the grill, place them on a clean platter.

• Never use the same platter and utensils for cooked food that you used for raw meat, poultry, or seafood.

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