Safety Tip: Packing Foods for Your Cookout

Don't let spoiled food spoil the fun at your barbecue. Here are tips for keeping your meats and prepared dishes separated and at the right temperatures while you enjoy the summer sun.

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The Labor Day holiday is all about barbecues, beaches and picnics. Don't let spoiled food spoil the fun. Try these tips for keeping your goodies at the right temperatures while you enjoy the summer sun.

Packing Up

If you don't have a cooler, buy one. In fact, buy a few medium-sized ones, and keep them handy for any outdoor dining (whether in your own backyard, at a friends, at the beach or at the park). If you're having a barbecue somewhere, that mean you’ll be toting along raw meats; sometimes they end up sitting in your car or sitting around for several hours until chow time. Make sure to keep raw foods and ready-to-eat salads cold (get some ice packs for those coolers); bacteria love hot weather!

Three Things to Remember
To keep your food safe for your cookout, here’s what to do:
  1. Separate: Use at least two coolers -- one for raw meats and one for your ready-to-eat salads and cut-up fruits and veggies. Don’t place raw meats, fish and chicken in the same cooler as veggies, fruits or salads. You could end up with burger juice as your salad dressing -- ick!
  2. Wrap: Wrap each type of food separately so meat drippings don’t get on everything else. Make sure to tightly seal the bags so juices can’t escape.
  3. Batch cook: Don’t cook everything up at once. Cooked food shouldn't be in the sun for more than an hour. Instead, take a headcount on who’s hungry and start grilling small amounts at a time. Leave the extra raw meats in the cooler (or the fridge if one's nearby) until you’re ready to grill them up.
    More info on grilling food safely:

This is the first post in a weekly series we're doing in honor of National Food Safety Education Month.

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