University of Minnesota Extension
Menu Menu

Extension > Live Healthy, Live Well > It's Fun to Eat Outdoors in the Summer, but Keep Food Safe

Friday, July 1, 2016

It's Fun to Eat Outdoors in the Summer, but Keep Food Safe

By Mary Schroeder, Extension Educator — Health and Nutrition

Summer is a great time to get together with family and friends and enjoy food outdoors. But hot weather poses special challenges to keeping food safe. You need to be sure your next outdoor summer gathering is remembered for fun and not because everyone got sick from the food! To do that, follow these simple tips to keep germs away from your outdoor party.

When bringing food to a picnic or cookout

  • Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. 
  • Fill it up! A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one.
  • Keep the cooler out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
  • Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.
When cooking on the grill
  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures, as follows:
    • Beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F, with a 3-minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve cooked food.

When serving food outdoors
  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served — at 140 °F or warmer.
  • Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.
For more tips on summer food safety, check out the infographic on this page: Summer and Vacations. Have a fun summer and keep the food safe!

 U.S. Department of Agriculture

No comments:

  • © Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved.
  • The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer. Privacy