Outdoor fun and food safety

The weather is still great for fun outings with family and friends, but hot weather can pose a problem for some of our favorite ready to eat foods.

The weather is still great for fun outings with family and friends, but hot weather can pose a problem for some of our favorite ready to eat foods. Michigan State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture have prepared guidelines to make your next adventure in the woods or on the lake safe for all.

You will want to examine and clean a cooler, then pack it with foods either frozen or surrounded with ice packs. Foods that are ready to eat, like fruits and vegetables, should be washed and wrapped securely to prevent contamination from other foods. Deli meats, cheese or any other food that require no cooking should be handled safely with secure containers and kept cold. Perishable foods, like cooked chicken (that includes fried chicken!), and potato or pasta salads, should be kept in the cooler. Remember the rule: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! Also, the 2-hour rule: no food should remain in the "Danger Zone" for more than 2 hours. Unless you plan to eat that bucket of fried chicken within 2 hours of purchase, it needs to be kept in the cooler. To keep it safe- consider buying it the night before, refrigerating it in a shallow container (not a bucket), and cover it.

A refrigerator thermometer is an excellent way to monitor the temperature of the cooler and its contents when packing it cold in the cooler. The refrigerator thermometer reading should be 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below. You might consider bringing two coolers, one for food the other for drinks, this may help keep food colder longer and keep the cooler out of the sun. If you are unable to maintain the temperature of the cooler at 41 F, then you will need to throw the food away within two hours. Plan ahead for clean up: You will need clean water for clean-up and hand washing if restrooms are not available. Bring disposable paper towel and gallons of fresh water and soap.

These steps can help keep your food safe, so you can continue to enjoy the great weather and outdoor fun with family and friends.

Did you find this article useful?


You Might Also Be Interested In