Travel With Food Safely

The summer breezes are warm and the sun is out - an ideal day for a family picnic or a trip to a family reunion. As you pack up your goodies, follow these tips to make certain the food stays safe.

  • Keep cold foods cold -- below 40¡Æ F.
  • Keep hot foods hot -- above 140¡Æ F. Hot foods need a wrap. Use foil or towels to wrap hot dishes; place in a plastic-foam cooler. Serve within two hours after packing.
  • Raw meats need one plate, grilled meats another. That way you avoid spreading bacteria from the raw juices on the first plate to the cooked food.
  • Chill leftovers within 2 hours. Food spoils quickly outdoors or in the danger zone between 40 - 140¡Æ F. Two hours is the longest any food should stand out.
  • Make cleanliness a top priority. Everything that touches food (both hands and dishes) needs to be very clean.
  • Leave some foods at home. Custards, puddings, and egg-thickened dishes spoil easily.
  • Pack plastic garbage bags and paper towels for easy cleanup.

Picnic Paraphernalia

Let¡¯s consider the equipment you can use to transport, insulate, cook, and eat your feast - whether it¡¯s a basic lunch for two or a feast for the family reunion.

Baskets - Baskets may be open or have hinged lids, and they may be lined. If it has handles, they should be strong and durable, especially on larger models.

Coolers - Foods that spoil quickly, such as meats, fish, mayonnaise, and most dairy products, must be kept cold to prevent bacterial growth and the possibility of food poisoning. When purchasing a cooler, look for sturdiness; strong, easy-to-hold handles; and tight lids that lock in place. Another useful feature is a leakproof drain.

Bags - Designed especially for carrying foods and beverages and keeping them cool, ¡°refrigerator bags¡± are usually insulated with fiberglass, covered and lined with vinyl, and fitted with wraparound handles and a zipper that allows the flat top to be opened on three sides.

Ham-Noodle Salad

  • 4 cups cooked macaroni, rinsed and chilled
  • ¨ö lb. cooked ham, cubed
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded Cheddar cheese
  • ¨ù cup chopped green onions
  • ¨ø cup commercial sour cream
  • ¨÷ cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
  • 2 tsp. prepared mustard
  • ¨ö tsp. salt
  • ¨ú cup sliced radishes
  • Green pepper shells

Combine macaroni, ham, celery, Cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions in a large bowl. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, and salt; stir into macaroni mixture, mixing well. Chill 1 hour. Stir in radishes. Spoon into pepper shells to serve.

Yield: 8 servings.

For More Information Contact:
Nancy A. Freeman
Extension Home Economist
Harrison County Extension Service
(228) 865-4227