Safety Tip: Packing Foods for Your Cookout

by in Food Safety, September 4, 2009

cooler
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.

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

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Comments (3)

  1. Lee says:

    I want to know where I can find a nice carry along cooler (like the one in the picture of this article) that fits containers nicely and still has room for ice packs. Doing things right means you need the right tools. Help!!!

  2. tamidor says:

    Hi Lee,
    You can find coolers at various stores–from Whole Foods to Target to Walmart to my local pharmacy (CVS or Rite Aide). I just looked online at these stores and found a wide variety that were not too pricey.

  3. @Lee

    You can buy it in your near supermarket, or buy it at Amazon.

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