Healthy picnic foods and food safety

July 01, 2002|by Christine L. Moats

Health Q&A

Q: What are some summer food safety tips I can follow when cooking or grilling outside?


  • Heat fresh meat, fish or poultry to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be served at 140 degrees F or higher.

  • Cheese and milk-based products should be stored below 40 degrees.

  • Wash your hands before and after preparing food, and before moving on to a new food.

  • Bacteria grows between 40 and 140 degrees so keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

  • Food should be refrigerated within two hours of being served to prevent bacteria. Foods should be refrigerated sooner if it is a very hot day.

  • In general, cooked meat can be kept 3 to 4 days and eggs 4 to 5 weeks in a refrigerator.

  • Wash your hands before eating.

  • Keep raw meat, fish and poultry away from cooked foods. Never use the same plate or cutting board for raw and cooked meat.

  • Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat, poultry or seafood on cooked foods unless you boil it before applying. Never taste marinade or sauce that was used to marinate raw meat, fish or poultry unless it is heated to the boiling point first.

Q: What are some healthy food choices for picnics and barbecues?



  • Make lean beef, turkey or ham sandwiches with low-fat condiments such as mustard, low-fat dressings, and low-fat or fat-free mayo.

  • Prepare lean beef, tuna steaks or chicken breasts on the grill.

  • Try tortilla wraps filled with lettuce, green peppers, tomatoes, cucumber slices and other veggies. Add a little cheese or low-fat bean dip for protein.

  • Use low-fat mayo and mustard in your salads or slaws. Make pasta salad with olive oil and seasonings.

  • Don't forget the veggie tray, wheat crackers and pretzels with yogurt dip. Or try baked corn chips and salsa.

  • Have a fruit salad, angel food cake or watermelon for a low-fat, healthy dessert.

- Sources:,

Christine L. Moats is wellness coordinator for Washington County Hospital.

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