Many of us have a memory of a must-have food at family picnics. Ours was a particular sandwich made with Klik, lettuce and tomatoes, which we called “by the highway” sandwiches because they were usually eaten seated somewhere next to the open trunk of Dad’s Super ’88. They were always soggy by the time we ate them, but somehow festive and yummy. And, if memory serves, they were always cold. I’m sure I’d remember the consequences, had those Klik sandwiches basked too long in the depths of a too-warm picnic cooler.
Presented with all the great salads, finger foods, fresh fruit, meats and sandwiches at picnics, potlucks and outdoor lunches, it can be so easy to forget there’s always a higher risk of getting a foodborne illness eating outdoors.
It may seem repetitive but it’s absolutely worth repeating — harmful bacteria grow in the warm, moist conditions that outside dining creates and it’s always important to take the necessary precautions. We’ll save ourselves and everyone else we’re feeding this summer by being extra careful with how food is prepared and served outside.
Remember — chill, separate, clean and cook — and the few essential particulars of these food-handling directives — and you’ll keep on enjoying lots of great meals outdoors.
Keep raw foods cold. This can be a challenge when you are outdoors, especially with raw meat, poultry and seafood. Use a cooler to store your food. Use plenty of ice packs to make sure it is kept out of the temperature danger zone of 4 C to 60 C (40 F to 140 F). Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight, and avoid opening it too often. If you use two separate coolers for food and drinks, the one with the food will not be opened as often, so it will stay cold longer.
On hot summer days, don’t keep food unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
Make sure to keep your raw meat, poultry and seafood away from other foods so that you don’t spread foodborne bacteria between foods. You can avoid cross-contamination by packing or wrapping meat, poultry and seafood separately or by using separate containers which will prevent leaks. If you are packing vegetables in the same cooler, always put meat, poultry and seafood at the bottom of the cooler to keep juices from dripping onto other foods. Never put ready-to-eat or cooked food on the same plate that held raw meat, poultry or seafood. For cooking outdoors, consider taking along several sets of utensils, cutting boards or plates. This can help prevent cross-contamination.
Make sure that your hands, plates and utensils are clean. This will help reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Follow the same washing instructions outdoors as you do at home. Bring soap and wash your hands with warm, clean water for at least 20 seconds.
Bacteria such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria can be killed by heat. Raw meat, poultry and seafood must be cooked properly to a safe internal temperature (see chart below) to eliminate these bacteria.
SOURCE: Health Canada www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Internal cooking temperatures
We had several recipes sent to us by Jean Jack of Portage la Prairie last week and these two salad recipes are perfect for a summer picnic. Thank you Jean.
Creamy Southwestern BBQ Pasta Salad
- 1/2 c. Kraft Ranchers Choice Dressing3 tbsp. Kraft BBQ sauce4 c. elbow macaroni, cooked and drained1 can (19 oz./540 ml) black beans, drained, rinsed1 can (12 oz./341 ml) corn, drained2 tomatoes, chopped1 green pepper, chopped4 green onions, finely chopped
- 6 c. broccoli florets6 c. cauliflower 2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved1 large red onion, sliced1 can (6 oz.) pitted ripe olives, drained and sliced1 envelope ranch salad dressing mix2/3 c. vegetable oil1/4 c. vinegar
- Salad:1 c. dried green or brown lentils1/2 tsp. salt1 bay leaf1/2 c. red onion, finely chopped1 c. chopped yellow bell pepper1 c. halved cherry tomatoes5 oz. Canadian havarti cheese, diced small2 tbsp. fresh thyme, finely chopped
- Dressing:1/4 c. olive oil2 tbsp. white wine vinegar or lemon juice1 garlic clove, mincedSalt and pepper, to taste
Cook lentils in four cups of water with salt and bay leaf until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and chill. Mix dressing ingredients together. Combine lentils with remaining salad ingredients. Toss with dressing and serve.
Prep. time: 15 minutes / Cooking time: 30 – 40 minutes / Yields: 4 servings
Source: Dairy Farmers of Canada