a young family enjoying lunch in the park

Picnic Safety Tips

Elaine Ambrose
This content originally appeared on 

Picnic Safety

Keep Hot Food Hot and Cold Food Cold

Cold foods should be kept at 40degF or lower, while hot foods need to be at 140degF or above. Those temperatures in between constitute the "Danger Zone," where bacteria can multiply rapidly.

Use plenty of ice or cold packs in your coolers. Store drinks in a separate cooler so that the food cooler isn't opened and closed repeatedly. Carry coolers in the air-conditioned interior of your car rather than in the trunk, and place them in the shade when you reach your destination. Be sure to thoroughly chill foods you've cooked, such as fried chicken, before they go into a cooler.

Clean Picnicking Tips

The cleaner the better! Be scrupulous about clean hands and utensils. If there's no safe drinking water at your destination, pack your own. 

Bring disposable, moist towelettes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer for cleaning up. And don't skimp on utensils--plenty of plasticware for eating and serving foods is essential. Use fresh plates when serving seconds or different foods, like desserts. 

Only Meet with What You Plan to Eat

Remember the 2-hour rule. Carry only what you plan to eat. Two hours is the maximum amount of time food should be left unrefrigerated. Discard leftovers, and if you still have hungry picnickers, stop at your favorite ice cream stand on the way home for the ultimate summertime treat.