Augusta, GA – As you celebrate Labor Day with cookouts and barbecues, remember to take special care with your food so you don’t ruin your fun. 

Be sure uninvited guests like food poisoning don’t take a seat at your Labor Day picnic table.  In many cases, picnic safety guidelines could be obvious – keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold, using plenty of ice to keep perishable foods chilled, and keeping cooked foods separate from raw meat, fish and poultry.  But other important precautions could be things you hadn’t thought of:

  • Keep perishable foods chilled below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Bring moist towelettes or soap and water to clean your hands and surfaces often.
  • Pack fresh washed produce that doesn’t have bruises or cuts.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, bring extra plates—one for raw foods and another for cooked foods.
  • Bring two cloths– one to clean areas touched by meat and another for ready-to-eat foods.
  • Transport a packed cooler it in an air-conditioned car instead of the in the back of a hot truck.  
  • Keep a watch on how long food sits out. The general rule is no longer than two hours, but in hot weather (90 degrees or warmer) that time is reduced to one hour.

“A safe cookout is easy,” says Robbie Bradford, Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Doctors Hospital.  “It just takes a little time and preparation.”