Picnics are a great way to celebrate this time of year. In order to keep your festivities festive, however, it is essential that you protect yourself and the people you are nourishing from the misery of food poisoning.
As subjects go, food poisoning is unpleasant and unattractive. But you know what's worse than talking about it? Having food poisoning.
If you have food poisoning, you may experience nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. If you're lucky, you might just feel like you have the flu. Drink plenty of liquids in this case to help the food poisoning pass.
If you're not so lucky you could get dangerously ill and should see a doctor right away.
Worried now? Don't be. You can stay safe if you treat your food, and its expiration dates, with respect.
Wash everything. Wash your fruits and vegetables. Wash your cutting board. Wash your knives. Wash your hands.
Use one cutting board for fruits or vegetables, and a separate one for raw meat. This will preserve the safety of your produce.
When you thaw foods, you can leave them in the fridge rather than thawing them on the counter at room temperature.
You can also thaw some frozen foods under running water or in the microwave. When the food is thawed, don't refreeze it.
Meat should be marinated in the fridge, not on the counter.
Cook meat and seafood thoroughly. Invest in a meat thermometer if you haven't already.
Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F. Beef should be cooked to 160 degrees F. Pork should be cooked to 145 degrees F.
Keep meat heated at no lower than 140 degrees F before serving, in a warming oven or at the side of the grill. After two hours at room temperature, your food is unsafe to keep.
If you have leftovers, put them in the fridge right away. And when you reheat those leftovers be sure to heat them through and through.
Ditch the utensils, dishes and cookware that you used to cook them. This protects you from any bacteria in the meat juices.
When you're preparing food for a picnic or barbecue, be sure to keep cold foods very cold, at 40 degrees F or lower. Put frozen gel packs or ice in the cooler.