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A Healthy Picnic Guide

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It’s warm indoors so get your picnic blanket out and have some great family fun. There’s nothing like eating outdoors with your feet in the grass, leaving walls, ceilings and shoes behind. Here are some tips to keeping this healthy, safe and clean:

1. Food-Safety Basics for Eating Outdoors
Foodborne illness, also called “food poisoning,” peaks in the summer for two main reasons. First, the warm, humid weather helps bacteria thrive. While naturally present in the environment, bacteria multiply more rapidly in warm weather, particularly when it’s between 90 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. They also need moisture, and the summer is often hot and humid. Second, people are outdoors more often — at picnics, barbecues and campsites. We don’t have our typical safety controls like hand-washing facilities and refrigeration.

2. Food-Safety Tip: Keep Cold Food Cold
Keep your cooler, well, cool. When you’re ready to leave home, carry it inside the air-conditioned car, not the trunk. At the picnic spot, keep it out of direct sunlight. When it’s time to eat, create a makeshift air-conditioned kitchen by filling a big bowl with ice and putting smaller bowls of cold food on top. Always keep an eye on time and temperature, and don’t let food stay in the “danger zone” between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours (or one hour if it’s above 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Time and temperature abuse is a leading cause of foodborne illness. To play it safe, use a basic food thermometer to monitor the temperature, and always remember: “When in doubt, throw it out.”

3. You’re Outdoors — Take Advantage!
When you’re picnicking outside, take advantage of the beautiful weather and open space. Stand. Play. Run around. Whatever is fun — do that. There are ways to move more at picnics and backyard barbecues.

4. Recipe Idea: Cold-Cut Sandwiches
Eating processed red meats like ham and salami have been linked to heart disease and colorectal cancer. Researchers found that men who consumed the most processed red meat (75 grams or more per day) had a 28 percent higher risk of heart failure than men who ate the least (25 grams or less per day).