Expert weighs in on how to keep food safe during picnics - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Expert weighs in on how to keep food safe during picnics

Big picnics or just small family gatherings are special occasions during this time of year, but if safe handling techniques are not practiced it cold turn a good time into a trip to the hospital. (Source: WAFF) Big picnics or just small family gatherings are special occasions during this time of year, but if safe handling techniques are not practiced it cold turn a good time into a trip to the hospital. (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Memorial Day kicks off the summer fun season. Big picnics or just small family gatherings are special occasions during this time of year, but if safe handling techniques are not practiced it cold turn a good time into a trip to the hospital.

Terance Martin is an urban extended food program coordinator for the Cooperative Extension Systems, housed at Alabama A & M.  

"So while we are having these fun activities it's important to make sure that when we are traveling, taking food from here to there that we are storing it properly," said Martin.

One simple rule of thumb when it comes to protecting your family is to keep hot food hot and cold foods cold.

"If you got hot foods you take it to a destination, make sure it stays hot.  And if it set out longer than 4 hours, you need to refrigerate it. If you've got a cold product make sure it stays on ice or keep it lower than 40 degrees," explained Martin. "It's imperative that we keep those cool to prevent things like listeria."

There are other ugly bacteria out there ready to spoil your picnic.

"Chicken is easily one of our more staple foods for bar-b-ques.  Salmonella is very prevalent in poultry. So it's imperative that we cook our poultry product that's very prone to pathogens like salmonella," said Martin.

There are simple measures to prevent cross contamination.

"Use separate boards, cutting boards, that way you won't take the risk of cross contamination," said Martin. "Even bacteria like E-Coli on your fruits and vegetables when you're doing fruit salad and making a salad."

Martin said to do your homework about things like mayonnaise based foods and other items which can ruin a great meal.

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