Keeping food at their proper temperatures is critical in preventing the growth of foodborne bacteria. The key is to never let your picnic food remain in the “Danger Zone.” This means between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit for more than two hours, or one hour if outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees. This is when bacteria in food multiply rapidly and lead to a foodborne illness.
Follow these simple rules for keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot!
- Cold perishable foods should be kept in the cooler at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below until it is time to serve.
- Once the foods are served, they should not stand out for longer than 2 hours or 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. If it does stay out longer, throw it out!
- Foods like chicken salad and desserts in individual serving dishes can be placed directly on ice or a shallow container set in a deep pan filled with ice. Drain off the water as the ice melts and replace the ice frequently.
- Hot food should be kept hot or at 140 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
- Wrap it well and place it in an insulated container until serving.
- Follow the same time guidelines as cold foods. Hot foods should not stand out for more than 2 hours or 1 hour in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, If food is left out longer, throw it away to be safe.
View other posts in the series:
- Food Safety: Tips for picnic site preparation
- Food Safety: How to pack and transport food
- Food Safety: Safe grilling tips