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Avoiding Foodborne Illness At Summer Picnics

When the weather warms up, heading outside for a picnic can be a great way to take in the sun and enjoy good times with family and friends. However, it's important to be careful and avoid the dangers of foodborne illness.

Fortunately, there are a number of strategies individuals can employ to lessen the risk of foodborne illness while enjoying an outdoor excursion. If you are hosting an outdoor party for friends and neighbors, be sure to follow these tips to reduce your risk and ensure the safety of your guests.

Keep clean

Dirty hands and surfaces are prime breeding grounds for foodborne illness. Anyone preparing food or helping themselves to dishes shared by others should make sure their hands are washed thoroughly with soap and warm water. This goes double after using the restroom or handling animals.

Any surfaces holding food products should also be cleaned thoroughly. This includes both the dishes used to hold food and the table they're sitting on.

Wash and cook

Food items such as fruits and vegetables should be washed properly, especially those that will be consumed with their skin on. When it comes to meat and poultry, proper cooking procedures are essential. High temperatures kill harmful bacteria, so it's important to make sure that food like beef, chicken and pork are cooked through completely. Using a food thermometer can help with this process.

Separate food

Keeping different foods in the same container can lead to cross-contamination. For instance, raw meat can leak juice onto fruits or vegetables that can lead to illness. In addition, plates, utensils and cutting boards should never be reused for different foods without being thoroughly washed first.


While high temperatures kill dangerous organisms, cool temperatures will keep organisms from coming back. Perishable food items should be chilled if they won't be eaten immediately. If food is being stored in an ice chest, it's important to make sure melting ice is replenished regularly.

Picnics in the sun should be a time for fun. Using common sense and clean preparation practices will greatly reduce the risk of foodborne illness and liability and increase safety for everyone involved.