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Keeping it cool: The best practices for food safety at outdoor events

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Outdoor food safety tips
  • Tips for outdoor food safety.
  • Avoid food poisoning this summer.
  • Warm weather breeds illness.

As the weather warms up, outdoor events become the perfect way to enjoy sunshine, fresh air and delicious food.

However, ensuring food safety at these gatherings is crucial to prevent foodborne illnesses.

Whether you’re planning a family picnic, a barbecue or a large festival, following best practices for food safety will help keep everyone healthy and happy.

Before you continue reading, we invite you to listen to the new Tu Mundo Hoy podcast by clicking HERE.


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Proper food storage

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Keeping food at the right temperature is key to preventing bacterial growth.

Perishable items should be stored in coolers with plenty of ice packs or ice to maintain a temperature of 40°F or below.

Use separate coolers for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Remember to keep the coolers in a shaded area and avoid opening them frequently to maintain a consistent temperature.

Wash your hands!

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Clean hands and surfaces are vital for food safety.

Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before handling any food.

If running water is not available, use hand sanitizers and moist towelettes.

Use separate utensils and cutting boards for raw meat and other foods to prevent cross-contamination, and always cook meat to the recommended internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria.

Cooking to the right temperature is essential for outdoor food safety

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Using a food thermometer is the best way to ensure meat is cooked to a safe temperature.

Poultry should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, while ground meats need to reach 160°F.

Steaks, chops and roasts should be cooked to at least 145°F and allowed to rest for three minutes before serving.

Keeping food hot after cooking is also essential, with a holding temperature of 140°F or higher to prevent bacterial growth.

Keeping cold foods cold

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Cold foods should be kept at 40°F or below to prevent spoilage and bacterial growth.

Use coolers filled with ice or ice packs, and consider using a separate cooler for drinks to minimize the number of times the food cooler is opened.

Cold salads, sandwiches and other perishable items should be kept on ice until they are ready to be served, and leftovers should be promptly returned to the cooler after the meal.

Additionally, avoid placing coolers in direct sunlight to maintain the low temperature as long as possible.

Avoiding the danger zone for outdoor food safety

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The temperature danger zone for food is between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria can multiply rapidly.

Foods should not be left out in this temperature range for more than two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90°F.

Plan to serve and eat food promptly, and use insulated containers to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold during transportation and serving.

Be sure to have plenty of ice packs or hot packs on hand to maintain the proper temperatures throughout your event.

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