It’s Picnic Season! Be safe, have fun!

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.”  ~ Erma Bombeck

Did your 4th of July include a picnic?   If yes, we hope that you took steps to make sure your potato salad didn’t get “iffy!”

Summer is picnic season!  While it can be fun eating outdoors,  warmer temperatures make food hygeine all that more important when dining “al fresco.”  Here are some basic rules for making sure that you’re not packing or eating bugs like  norovirus, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter along with the great food that you just made.

Keeping Your Picnic Safe – Clean, Separate, Cook, Chill

Here are the the rules of food stafety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, complete with videos!


  • Wash your hands and surfaces often. Germs can survive in many places around your kitchen, including your hands, utensils, and cutting boards.
  • Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running water and always follow the rules of food safety.


  • Don’t cross-contaminate. Even after you’ve cleaned your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread germs to ready-to-eat foods—unless you keep them separate.


  • Cook to the right temperature. While many people think they can tell when food is “done” simply by checking its color and texture, there’s no way to be sure it’s safe without following a few important but simple steps.
  • Use a food thermometer to ensure that foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature: 145°F for whole meats (allowing the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or consuming), 160°F for ground meats, and 165°F for all poultry.


  • Keep your refrigerator below 40°F and refrigerate foods properly.
  • Germs can grow in many foods within 2 hours unless you refrigerate them.
  • During the summer heat, cut the time before chilling down to 1 hour.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Symptoms of food poisoning are uncomfortable and messy at best, and at worst can result in death.  Here is a list from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever

When young children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with weak immune systems eat contaminated food, they have a greater chance of becoming severely sick, leading to long-term health problems or even death.  Any of the following symptoms are very serious and require medical attention:

  • Frequent episodes of vomiting that interfere with your ability to keep liquids down
  • Vomiting blood
  • Severe diarrhea for more than three days
  • Blood in your bowel movements
  • Extreme pain or severe abdominal cramping
  • An oral temperature higher than 101.5 F (38.6 C)
  • Signs or symptoms of dehydration — excessive thirst, dry mouth, little or no urination, severe weakness, dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Difficulty speaking
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Double vision
  • Muscle weakness that progresses downward

However, following the simple tips above can help you have a safe and fun picnic!

Coming tomorrow?  Yummy picnic foods from our Go Folic! Easy Snacks brochure.

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