Avoid food poisoning at your picnic this summer - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Avoid food poisoning at your picnic this summer

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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- As the summer kicks off, many people are firing up the grill and packing up the coolers for barbecues and picnics. But before you join the outdoor fun, health officials in Texoma say there are safety measures you need to know when cooking outdoors in the warmer months. 

Health officials for Bryan and Marshall County say the cases of food poisoning they see within the community greatly increases during the summer months. They say this issue can easily be helped by following a few guidelines next time you're planning a barbecue.

“If you've never experienced foodborne illness or anything like that, food poisoning, it's horrible," said Tilana Wood, the Public Health Specialist for Bryan and Marshall County.  

Wood says avoiding foodborne illness does get more difficult in the warmer months, especially when cooking outdoors.

"If you're cooking something, I recommend cooking everything to 165,” she said. “There's different temperatures, your poultry mainly needs to be cooked to 165."

She advises Texomans to get a probe thermometer summer because it's hard to control food temperatures when you're outside.

“Like the old saying goes, keeps cold things cold and hot things hot,” Wood said. “If you have to second guess yourself you should probably just get rid of it."

A key to a safe outdoor picnic is a properly packed cooler. Wood says to pack plenty of ice but never leave items sitting in the ice for too long, to avoid cross contamination. Every few hours, make sure to drain the cooler and replace the ice and when you're packing raw meat, be sure to double wrap it.

"Just from experience and knowing,” she said, “and growing up parents used to keep the lunch meat or raw hamburger meat into the ice cooler right there next to your pop. Just try to keep everything separated."

Wood also tells KTEN another key ingredient to a successful picnic outing is cleanliness.

"If you want to set up a temporary hand washing sink,” Wood said, “you can have a little ice cooler thing that you actually put water in that has a little spout. you can use that and have a little tank for gray water and some soap and water. That way you can wash your hands, if you're messing with the raw food."

Another safety tip, that Wood says most people ignore, is the four hour rule. If your food has been sitting out for more than fours, it's time to get rid of it. She says leftovers aren't an option at summer picnics or barbecues.