Monday, May 30th is Memorial Day, and picnics are being planned. But, we want to make sure that we are keeping our picnic foods safe. It’s a fun time to kick off the summer with family and friends. Parties are being organized to gather a crowd around the pool, up at the lake cabin, or a small barbecue at the house. And there’s nothing better than a juicy burger, some potato salad, and banana pudding to get the party started. But, you don’t want spoiled food to end your festivities early.
Keeping Picnic Foods Safe: How Long Is Too Long?
At parties, we tend to leave our food out for “munching.” When we do this, especially outside, food can spoil leaving some of the party goers sick. This is the last thing we want to happen at our big celebration.
The USDA warns us to keep food “out of the danger zone.” “Cooked food should not be left unrefrigerated for more than 2 hours.” It’s easy to forget to put something back in the fridge or get distracted, especially at a fun get together. This sets up an opportunity for the goodies to grow bacteria, and opens up a chance for someone to get food poisoning. The agency even goes on to state that if the food’s sitting in an environment where the temperature is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the food should only be left out for a maximum of one hour. They say to throw away any food left out beyond these times.
Picnic Food Safety: What & How To Serve
You may want to try some new recipes that are more “picnic friendly.” For example, Allrecipes offers some mayo free potato salad options.
They also emphasize that “cold, perishable food, such as chicken salad or a platter of deli meats, should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. When serving food at a buffet, keep food in hot, chafing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays. Keep food cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice.”
Picnic Food Safety Myths
The Washington State Dept of Health has some interesting answers to myths that we have all heard concerning the safety of food. Some of them represented are:
- Myth – “The last meal I ate is what caused my food poisoning” – it can take longer
- Myth – “Leftovers are safe to eat if they look and smell OK” – bacteria don’t affect taste, smell, or appearance of food
- Myth – “When I microwave food, the microwaves kill the bacteria” – microwaves can leave cold spots in food, leaving bacteria to survive
- Myth – “I don’t need to wash my hands since I used hand sanitizing gel” – sanitizer only effects the outer layer of film on the hands. A good hand washing is needed to really get dirt, grease, and germs.
- Myth – “If you drop food on the floor and pick it up within five seconds, it’s safe to eat” – not true, food dropped needs to be thrown away if cannot be washed
These myths and several others are addressed in this article. Also in “food safety tips” they remind us to “arrange and serve food on several small platters instead of one large one. Keep the rest of the food either hot or cold.”
We want everyone to be safe and healthy on the big Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer. If, however, someone does get sick or injured on your outing, remember that we at Aero Jet Medical are available 24/7 worldwide to get to your location as soon as possible and get you the care you require.
So, be safe, and start up the grill!
photo credit: Cheese, grapes, and Doritos via photopin (license)