I’ve been to a lot of outdoor cookouts this summer and as a dietitian, you’d probably think I am horrified by the amount of charred red meat and nitrate sticks (aka, hot dogs) that my friends and family are eating. While true, I am, I am MUCH more scared when I see the chicken salad that was placed on the picnic table at noon is still there at 4 p.m.
I’ve realized that people are so focused on the company that they forget the importance of basic food safety in hot temperatures. While having a great cookout for your friends can make you the toast of the town, sickening your guests can be a surefire way for your cookout to be blacklisted next year. So keep your friends and your normal digestive function this summer by following these 3 basic rules:
- Nasty bacteria start growing when it gets nice and warm, so limit the amount of time your perishable items stay outside to 2 hours.
- Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold: keep that lasagna in a heating pan or the egg salad (and other perishable items) in an ice bath.
- When traveling to a cookout, keep your foods in a cooler packed with ice in the backseat of your air-conditioned car, not the hot trunk.