It is definitely picnic season here. Family reunions, camping, picnics, and dinner on the grill are all part of the joy of summer. But that joy can quickly fade if someone in the family gets food poisoning. Fortunately just a little extra planning can help avoid many cases of foodborne illness. Here are a few tips from the Fight Bac website to help make your summer food safe.

1. Keep drinks and food in separate coolers. The drink cooler will be opened more frequently than the food cooler so food will stay at a better temperature.

2. A packed cooler maintains its temperature better than a partially full cooler. I put a refrigerator thermometer in my cooler (even though my husband thinks that is a little over the top!) to make sure the temperature stays in the safe zone.

3. If at all possible, transport your cooler in the air conditioned part of your car, not the hot trunk. At a picnic site, try to keep the cooler out of the direct sun.

4. The general rule is that food should not sit out unrefrigerated for longer than two hours. But if the temperature outside is very hot, say 90 degrees F or higher, food should be out no more than one hour.

5. If grilling, bring along a thermometer and make sure meats reach a safe internal temperature.

6. Don’t let raw meat come in contact with other foods or utensils. And once meat is cooked, do not put it back on the same tray or plate originally used for the raw meat.

The Fight Bac website has a lot more useful tips for summer food safety. If you are a FCS teacher, 4-H leader, etc., the website is a great resource. It includes downloadable resources and graphics that you can use. It even has some fun activities for children that parents could use at home or could be used in an elementary classroom.

I’d love to write more, but I’m getting sort of hungry myself. Time for some summer food fun!