4 Steps to Practice Food Safety this Summer

When the weather warms up, we have more opportunities for dining outdoors. Eating outside on the patio, picnicking at the park, or packing meals for camping are all fun summer meals that are a little riskier without good food safety practices. Let’s refresh on the four steps for food safety, paying close attention to the things to remember when eating and dining away from the kitchen.


  • Wash your hands. When dining or cooking outside, plan for how you’ll wash your hands and cooking equipment. Bring hand sanitizer or clean water and hand soap with you.
  • Wash your fruits and veggies.
  • Don’t wash your meat.
  • Wash cutting boards, knives, and counters before and after preparing food. Be sure to wash them again between preparing raw foods and ready-to-eat foods.


  • Keep raw meats and eggs away from ready-to-eat foods, like fruits and veggies, in the fridge, in the grocery cart, and while cooking. If you bring raw meat to the grill on a platter, wash it or use a different one to put the cooked meal on. Double bag raw meat with resealable, water-tight bags when using a cooler to keep meat juices (and germs) out of the other foods.
  • Use separate cutting boards and knives when preparing raw foods, or wash before using with ready-to-eat foods.


  • Use a food thermometer. Don’t forget your thermometer if you’re cooking away from your home! When cooking outdoors, you’ll still need a meat thermometer to check if your food is cooked to the safe temperature.
  • Keep hot foods hot (at or above 140°F) and cold foods cold (less than 40°F). Use ice packs and coolers when transporting food or camping. For a buffet, use ice to keep foods cold.
  • Microwave foods to 165°F when reheating leftovers.


  • Chill or throw away food after 2 hours, and just 1 hour if the temperature is above 90°F.
  • Thaw foods correctly, not on the counter at room temperature. Thawing overnight in the fridge is best. If you’re in a hurry, you can thaw under cold running water or in the microwave. 
  • Similar to thawing, you should not marinate foods at room temperature. Just pop it in the fridge until you are ready to cook. (Remember to throw away the leftover marinade. It’s full of raw meat juices and the germs that go with it.)
  • Practice the 4 Day Throwaway.

clean, separate, cook, chill for good food safety infographic

You can read more advice about food safety at picnics and BBQs. Or you can watch today’s Facebook Live video about keeping your food safe when dining outdoors. If you have any questions, we’re happy to help answer them! Just post in the comments here or on the Facebook Live video. And just a reminder, we broadcast on Facebook Live the first Thursday of every month at 1pm. If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to learn more about, just let us know!

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