Holiday Picnics Can Mean Risky Eating

Sunday, July 4, 2010 - 9:26am

Nothing spoils a 4th of July picnic more than spoiled food.

Letting your burgers and salads sit in the hot sun all day can be a real party-pooper.

Experts say food is safest when it's kept either below 41 degrees or above 135 degrees, basically right out of the fridge or the oven.

Allowing food to sit between that range of temperatures is an invitation for bacteria to join the celebration.

"If you are just slowly heating something up, you are just allowing all that bacteria to expand," explains chef Robert Brener.

One thing you can do to keep food safer, longer is forego mayonnaise-based dishes which can spoil quickly.

Chefs recommend using vinegar, like in a summery cucumber salad.

"The vinegar will not only not go off in the heat, but it'll actually protect your food somewhat because of the acidity," says Brener.

Also, a full cooler stays cooler longer.

When you are ready to serve lunch bring things out in small batches so they'll be consumed quickly.

Whole, raw foods like watermelons and peanuts are another good bet.

They're not going to be affected by the heat.

Experts also recommend washing your hands often during food preparation and using separate cutting boards for meat and vegetables to avoid cross-contamination.

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