Picnics are back on the table this long weekend so here are a few tips about handling food safely while eating outdoors.

To protect yourself, your family, and friends from foodborne illness during warm-weather months, safe food handling when eating outdoors is critical.

Quick Tips for Picnic Site Preparation

Food safety begins with proper hand cleaning — including in outdoor settings. Before you begin setting out your picnic feast, make sure hands and surfaces are clean.

  • Outdoor Hand Cleaning: If you don’t have access to running water, use a water jug, some soap, and paper towels. Or, consider using moist disposable towelettes for cleaning your hands.
  • Utensils and Serving Dishes: Take care to keep all utensils and platters clean when preparing food.

Prevent “Cross-Contamination” When Serving

Never reuse a plate or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood for serving — unless they’ve been washed first in hot, soapy water. Otherwise, you can spread bacteria from the raw juices to your cooked or ready-to-eat food. This is particularly important to remember when serving cooked foods from the grill.

Keep Cold Foods Cold and Hot Foods Hot

Keeping food at proper temperatures — indoor and out — is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone” — between 5 °C and 60 °C — for more than 2 hours. This is when bacteria in food can multiply rapidly, and lead to foodborne illness.