Unfortunately, if we are not careful when we plan, transport and function that picnic, our excursion may not end up happily.
Here are some tips to remember when planning an outdoor meal:
1. Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria multiply quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. Foods that have been stored at unsafe temperatures are a prime source of foodborne illnesses.
2. Plan ahead and try to take foods that don't spoil so quickly. At any rate, do not eat anything that's been sitting out for more than an hour, especially if the temperature is over 80.
3. Try to take only the amount of food that will be eaten, so there'll be no leftovers.
4. Pack your food with ice or cold packs in an insulated cooler. Place foods that will be eaten last at the bottom. You can make your own blocks of ice by freezing water in milk cartons or other plastic containers. Place ice cubes or cold packs between containers of food, never just place containers of food on top of ice.
5. You may want to bring 2 coolers -- 1 for drinks, because it'll be opened more frequently, and 1 to the meals, that can be put in the shade and kept closed until needed.
6. If you are planning to cook hamburgers at the picnic site, shape your meat into patties and freeze before putting into the cooler. Take along a meat thermometer to make certain that you cook the meat to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees.
7. An extra zip-top bag filled with ice can be placed in the top of the cooler. The extra ice will come in handy for the trip home. If your day is a long one, and the ice melts the cold water can come in handy, also.
8. Carry your cooler inside your car, instead of in your hot trunk and make sure to place it in a shady spot and maybe even cover it with a blanket when you reach your destination. Open it only when necessary.
9. Instead of bringing entire jars of condiments, pack what you'll need into smaller plastic containers.
10. Bring a lot of clean utensils for serving as well as eating. Pack pre-moistened towelettes and paper towels for easy cleanup.