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Family enjoying picnic in the park

Make sure your picnic food is safe this summer

by Guy Murphy

With the weather improving, many Knowsley residents will be getting ready to make a picnic to eat outdoors and enjoy some of the borough’s beautiful green spaces or visit some of the Borough of Culture attractions.

However, it is really important that we take steps to keep our food safe and reduce the risk of food poisoning.

The Food Standards Agency advise that people remember the 4Cs when making, transporting, and eating their picnics:

  • Chilling – make sure food are properly stored (see below)
  • Cleaning – make sure your kitchen work surfaces are cleaned before preparing food and use clean utensils.
  • Cooking – make sure all foods are thoroughly cooked. If possible, use a food thermometer to check internal temperatures
  • Avoiding cross-contamination – keep ready to eat foods away from raw meats.

How to keep your picnic clean

Before packing your picnic make sure you wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running tap water.

Wash your hands when preparing your picnic.

Before distributing and eating your picnic, clean your hands. Make sure you have some sanitiser with you to sterilise them too.

How to store your picnic food and keep it chilled

It can often be a long time between packing and eating your picnic, so its really important that you properly store food and ensure it stays cool.

For any foods that are normally kept in the fridge, make sure you store them in a cool bag. Use freezer blocks to ensure the temperature remains below 5°C. The type of food you should keep in a cool bag or box includes:

  • any food with a use-by date
  • cooked dishes
  • salads
  • dairy products

To ensure the cooler bag/box remains cold, try to limit the number of times that you open it. Ensure that freezer blocks/packs are distributed evenly throughout the bag/box and not all at the bottom.

Frozen drinks can also be used to help keep the temperature low.

What to do with leftovers

If you have any food leftover after your picnic, but it back in the cool box to keep cool. If you’re out for less than four hours and the food is still cool when you get home, you can put it back in the fridge. Any longer and you should dispose of it as the risk from bacteria increases.

You can read more about food poisoning here.