Summer Picnic Food Safety



A summer picnic is a great way to change up the scenery from your home dining table to eating with your friends and family in the great outdoors.  Picnics can be at a local park or even in your own backyard!  Whether your picnic is steps from your home or miles away, there are some important food safety tips to keep you and your family happy, healthy and safe!

Picnic Basics 101
Here are a few things you may always want to keep on hand for any and all picnics.
  • Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the site.  Pack clean, wet, disposable or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  • Bring hand sanitizer if soap and drinkable water is not available at the site.  (Cleaning is different than sanitizing). 
  • Bring plenty of ice or frozen gel packs.
  • Bring clean plates, utensils, and serving utensils.
What I Need to Think about for Picnic Day
  • Pack foods that will not spoil as quickly during Maryland's hot summers.  Examples of food that would spoil are hard boiled eggs, deli meats, and peeled and cut fruits and vegetables.   Examples of some foods that would NOT spoil as fast are nuts, dried fruit, whole fruits and veggies, and crackers.
  • If you do packs foods that can spoil, pack only enough food so that there will be no leftovers.
  • If bringing hot take-out food, eat it within one hour of purchase when the temperature is above 90 degrees.
  • Buy an insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs that you can keep foods in that easily spoil.  Your family may want to have two coolers, one for food and one for drinks.
  • Do not leave foods out in the sun.  Keep the cooler in the shade.  Serve food quickly from the cooler and return it fast.  Food should not sit out of the cooler over an hour in 90 degree weather.
  • If you are planning to grill, visit our previous blog on grilling food safety.
  • Do not forget to unpack the cooler as soon as you return home.  Refrigerate leftover meats and salads which have stayed cold (40 degrees and lower).  Discard the food if they have become warm.
Do not forget to bring a garbage bag to clean up after your awesome picnic!

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This institution is an equal opportunity provider. This material was funded by USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The University of Maryland Extension will not discriminate against any person because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry or national origin, marital status, genetic information, political affiliation, and gender identity or expression. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more about Maryland’s Food Supplement Program (SNAP), contact the Maryland Department of Human Resources at 1-800-332-6347 or apply online at https://mydhrbenefits.dhr.state.md.us/.
© Eat Smart, Be Fit Maryland!Maira Gall