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Take steps to ensure food safety at your picnic

Picnics are fun, but getting sick is not. Next time you are planning a picnic or cookout, be sure to take extra steps to ensure that your food is being stored and served correctly. You want to have food that tastes good and is safe to eat!

“With the summer heat, bacteria grow and spread more rapidly,” said Keri Howell, the chief clinical dietitian at Maury Regional Medical Center. “It is easy to get caught up in the fun of a gathering and not take the steps needed to keep the food safe for eating.”

Here are a few important tips from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to keep your food safe from shopping to serving.

✔️When it comes time to shop, be sure that picking up the meat is your last stop at the grocery store. At check out, place the meat in a separate bag.

✔️While prepping the food, thaw out your meat in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.

✔️Do not forget to wash all fruits and vegetables, even if you will not be using the peel. Otherwise, germs can get inside while you cut.

✔️As you cook, you will need to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat. Use different plates and utensils cooked meats and raw meats

✔️If you need to store the food before serving, keep dips and other perishables in the refrigerator. Similarly, store your meats in warming dishes or slow cookers.

✔️At serving time, place cold dishes into larger bowls with ice so that they can maintain that cool temperature.

✔️Once the party is over, throw out whatever food has been sitting out for more than two hours.

Learn more about food safety at CDC.gov.

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