Planning a Picnic?
Play it Safe with the Coolest Cooler Tips

Outdoor dining can spell disaster if spoiled food is on the menu. In the summer heat, dangerous bacteria can multiply very quickly and cause illness that can spoil your fun. Follow these “Cool Cooler Tips” so your picnic foods can arrive safe at the plate.

When You Pack Your Cooler:

Pack it Full to Keep it Cold
Pick a cooler that’s the right size for the occasion. A cooler completely packed with ice and chilled food keeps cool longer than one that is only partially filled. Load up your cooler with ice or freezer-packs. To keep ice from melting on cooler contents, pack it in resealable plastic bags. After you eat, the bags can be reused to store leftovers.

Avoid “Cooler Cross-Contamination”

Before you put raw meat, fish and poultry in your cooler, put them in tightly sealed plastic containers or plastic bags. Their raw juices are loaded with bacteria that can contaminate ready-to-eat foods.

Instead of using one large (and heavy) cooler for everything, have one small or medium-sized cooler for raw meat, fish and poultry and another for ready-to-eat foods and drinks.

Pack Your Cooler for Safety

Be sure foods are cold or frozen before you place them in the cooler. Pack highly perishable foods right next to the ice. Keep your cooler lid closed as long as you can and pack foods in the reverse order that you will need them so the last foods you put in will be the first you use.

At the Picnic Scene:

Keep Your Cooler in the Coolest Spot
Drive with your cooler on the floor of the passenger area of your vehicle, not in the sauna-like trunk. Once outside, keep the cooler in the shade, under a tree or bench, for example, and cover it with a light-colored blanket. Don’t leave your cooler in direct sunlight or in a warm car.

Take Your Cooler’s Temperature

For safety’s sake, put an appliance thermometer inside your cooler to check the temperature. For proper storage, cooler should be kept at or below 40°F.

After several hours your cooler’s temperature may rise into the “danger zone,” – between 40°F and 140°F – so remember to replenish the ice or ice packs to help keep your food cool.

Avoid Lingering Leftovers

Don’t let your food – hot or cold – sit out on the picnic table for more than two hours – one hour if the outside temperature is above 85°F. Put perishables into the cooler immediately after eating. And remember – when in doubt, throw it out.

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