9 tricks to scale back the chance of meals poisoning at a picnic


It’s that time of year when people suddenly want to do All outdoors, including for eating. And what better than a picnic to do it? Nothing is more summery than whipping up a blanket and piling it up with outdoor fixings, like tasty sandwiches and refreshing drinks.

But this scene gets a little less happy when you add bubbly burps and twitchy stomachs to the mix: food poisoning really ruins a great outing. We’re guessing that’s something almost all of the estimated 48 million people who come here each year can agree on.

Unfortunately, this picnic atmosphere is conducive to food poisoning, Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, professor of food security and nutrition and extension specialist at North Dakota State University, tells SELF. « In addition to warmer temperatures, summer tends to be more humid, and bacteria grow well when adequate moisture is present, » she says. In fact, insects can nearly double every 20 minutes in scorching conditions, she says.

When pathogens like Salmonella or E. coli enter your body, for example after eating food that has been spoiled by heat or prepared by an infected person who has not washed their hands, it can cause these symptoms of classic and extremely hellish food poisoning, such as relentless diarrhea and vomiting, stomach pain, nausea or even fever.

Luckily, there are plenty of food safety tips that can help you host a get-together that won’t leave your guests throwing up. Here’s everything you need to know to protect your picnic, from before you leave the house to after you’ve packed everything.

What to do before your picnic

1. Choose foolproof recipes suitable for the outdoors.

Choose dishes that do not spoil easily and will not be difficult to prepare, Thomas J. Delle Donne, MS, assistant dean for culinary relations and special projects at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, tells SELF. Hot dishes like rice pilaf or noodles should be prepared immediately before you go, and you should make sure they stay at 140°F or above the entire time, says Donne. Instead of just enjoying your time, you’ll instead be on thermometer duty all day.

On the other hand, cold entrees are generally more suitable for picnics: you can prepare and refrigerate them the day before, then put them in a cooler to keep them safe, says Donne. Mayo-based staples, like potato or chicken salad, are fair game, as long as you keep them on ice all the time, he says. Other great options include your favorite gazpacho soup, a pasta salad with a crunchy dressing, a refreshing fruit mix, or even sandwich fillings, he says.

For picnic foods that require even less day-to-day thinking, consider breaking out the shelf-stable snacks, entrees, or desserts, Frank Costantino, dean of the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College, tells SELF. Bagged pretzels, chips, and mixed nuts are solid choices because you don’t have to worry about keeping them cold. Or hot, he said. If you’re looking for something sweeter, you can swap sliced ​​fresh fruit — which should stay cool — with dried options, he says.

2. Wash your fruits and vegetables, even those with inedible rinds.

If you’re making a fruit salad, chances are you’ll remember to rinse the blueberries before tossing them. But what about watermelon before cutting it into cubes? We don’t totally blame you if this slips your mind, but consider this your gentle reminder: melons — or any product with peels — are among the most common fruits that people don’t wash, Donne says.

Like it? Share with your friends!