If you’re looking for a fun way to break free from your routine this summer, a picnic is a great place to start! Enjoying a meal with friends and family, connecting with nature, and disconnecting from the stress of your normal life. What more could you want? Unfortunately, that innocent and fun picnic can quickly take an unpleasant turn when food poisoning strikes. These food safety tips should be a vital part of your picnic planning and packing.

Stick to Nonperishables

The safest method of eating at a picnic area nonperishable food items. These items don’t run the risk of giving you food poisoning and they’re easy to pack on the go. Look for ways you can incorporate nonperishable food items into your picnic basket this summer.

Separate Raw Foods

If you’re bringing raw meat to throw on a grill, your risk for food poisoning and contamination is much higher. You should put all raw items in sealed bags, separate from the cooked foods. Place the raw items at the bottom of a cooler filled with frozen ice packs or actual ice. If possible, put the raw items in their own cooler.

Keep the Food Cold

Cold foods spoil very quickly in the summer heat. In fact, just an hour of exposure to 90-degree heat creates the perfect opportunity for bacteria to grow. Take food out to serve and eat, but then immediately put it back into the cooler. Keep the cooler in the back seat of an air-conditioned car while traveling to and from the picnic destination. If the ice in your cooler melts or food is left out for more than 1 hour, it should be thrown away. Foods that need to be kept cold include lunch meats, cheeses, anything containing mayonnaise, and more.

Check Internal Cooking Temperatures

Once it’s time to throw your food on the grill, you need to make sure it’s cooked thoroughly to kill off any potential bacteria. Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your grilled food before eating them. Food should be completely cooked all at one time. This means that grilling something partially, cooling it, and then continuing to finish the grilling later, is not a safe option.

Remind those enjoying the picnic with you that cold items should be kept cold and that they should wash their hands before eating. Most importantly, have fun and enjoy your time in the summer sun!