Keep foods safe during summer picnics, cookouts

Published 11:31 am Monday, June 4, 2018

Lori Ivey
ummer is just around the corner and picnics as well as cookouts are the perfect opportunity to gather with family and friends.
When planning for picnics and cookouts, make sure food safety is at the top of your checklist.
A few tips to keep your family and friends safe include:
• Always check the temperature of grilled meat, keep refrigerated foods cooled and properly store leftovers. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer if a sink with warm water and soap are not available.
• Color doesn’t indicate doneness, but temperature does. Make sure you have a tip-sensitive or digital thermometer to check the temperature of meats. An easy way to check temperature is to pick the meat up with tongs and insert the thermometer through the side or center of the meat.
Proper temperatures to remember are: Ground meats such as hamburgers — 160 degrees F; Poultry – 165 degrees F; Beef and pork steak, chops or roasts – 145 degrees F.
After cooking, meat should be placed on a clean plate. Marinade should be discarded or to safely reuse your marinade for sauce you must bring to a rolling boil for one minute while stirring constantly. The one minute is a sufficient time to reduce the amount of harmful bacteria in your marinade. If using marinade while cooking meats on the grill, make sure to cook at least five minutes after the last brush with marinade.
• Keep cold foods cold. Coolers should be well insulated and have adequate ice for packing. Ice blocks, cubes and re-freezable ice packs work well. Keep your cooler in the shade and replenish ice often. Sliced fruit, potato salad, pasta salad and other refrigerated foods should be kept in a cooler until serving. Never leave food at room temperature for more than two hours or on warm, sunny days above 85 degrees F, never leave cold foods out for more than one hour.
• Leftovers should be stored in a cooler with ample ice. Remember, when in doubt — throw it out. The cost of food-borne illness far outweighs any cost you may have lost in food that you may be throwing out. Keep your family and friends safe during picnics and cookouts. If you have additional food safety questions, call NC Cooperative Extension at 704-983-3987 or email

Apple Cucumber
Slaw or Salad
The perfect side dish for your picnic or cookout. (From ).
1 apple, cut into matchsticks (use a sweet apple such as Red Delicious, or a tart apple such as Granny Smith). You can also course chop apples for a salad instead of slaw.
½ English cucumber, chopped
¼ sweet onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
¼ cup white wine vinegar or rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Serve immediately, or chill in refrigerator until serving.

Lori S. Ivey is the county extension director with the Stanly County office of N.C. Cooperative Extension. Call 704-983-3897 or email