DENISON, TX -- Summer is usually a great time to load up the car and enjoy outdoor activities but before you pack up your basket, Amanda Ortez at the Grayson County Health Department has some tips on how to safely prepare picnic meals for your family.
"You wanna be sure to think about hand washing first of all and hand washing safety is as simple as gathering up the common items such as your basic hand towels, soap, hand sanitizer and of course your sanitizing solutions for when you need to separate foods, " said the Environment Health Services Manager.
Keep meat and perishable items chilled.
"Bring some kind of ice chest. Make sure you frequently replenish that ice. Forty-one degrees is the actual proper cold holding temperature for all potentially hazardous foods. "
A common mistake families make is leaving leftovers out in the open once the meal's over so Ortez recommends you, "put them back in the ice chest." She says to also bring plenty of water to keep your family hydrated in the heat and if you've left food out for more than four hours...toss it.
Ortez says one of the best defenses against food borne illnesses this summer, is to make sure the surface you're cooking on is clean.
Following these simple tips could mean the difference between a fun camping or picnic experience or one you'd rather forget.
"Recognize and respect food safety," she said. "Use the simple tools that are available here and that I've showed you today to make your vacation safe and happy and of course not spending that time being sick."
For more information on food safety, visit www.cdc.gov/