Safe summer meals

Four rules to follow when going on a picnic or camping.

Going camping or on a summer picnic soon? Cooking outdoors is a great way to feed your family while camping or on a picnic. Regardless of the cooking location, there are four food safety principles to keep in mind.

  1. Chill all of your foods that need refrigeration to keep them safe. Keep the cooler filled with ice and store it in a location away from direct sunlight. Keep foods refrigerated until ready to use and don’t leave perishable foods out on the table
  2. Separate raw meat, poultry or fish away from other foods, especially ready to eat foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, etc. It’s best to store the raw, meat or fish in a separate cooler.
  3. Cook all meats, poultry, fish or combination foods (such as vegetables mixed with meat) to the proper temperature. Steaks and roasts, and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Pork and ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken and other poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to pack a thermometer. The only way to know for sure about the internal temperature of a food is to use a clean, food thermometer.
  4. Keep everything clean. Find a place to wash your hands with soap and water. Use disposable wipes if water is not available. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw poultry and before handling fresh produce. Michigan State University Extension recommends always using a clean cutting board and washing all surfaces used to prepare, cook and serve food. Remember to use a clean plate when removing cooked foods from the grill.

Be especially careful with raw poultry. According to the Fight BAC campaign, illnesses from Salmonella spike during the summer. The overwhelming majority of hospitalizations from Salmonellosis occur in children under age 5. Symptoms of Salmonellosis include: abdominal cramps and tenderness, fever, and diarrhea.

For more information on safe food and water visit

To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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