It’s National Picnic Week (16-25 June 2017) and many of us will be heading outdoors to dine al fresco. The weather has been tropical recently and, for us Brits, that means day trips galore! The beach, the park or local tourist attractions are the ideal spots to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine!
But, before you go packing a bag full of food to feed your family and friends, consider the hazards of storing and transporting perishable food products over an extended period of time.
In our latest series of articles, we have been raising awareness about food safety and how to avoid sickness and ill health during the summer months. In this article, we therefore bring you tips and advice on picnicking safely.
This week, the Food Standards Agency has also launched Food Safety Week (19-25 June 2017), with much of the focus on promoting good food hygiene behaviours at home, with the predominant theme being ‘Safe Summer Food’.
A recent snapshot survey by the FSA found that many people are putting themselves at risk by leaving food exposed for longer than the recommended two hours. During the summer months, cases of food poisoning rise significantly and this is largely due to the fact that picnic food is being carried in baskets and plastic bags, rather than in chilled cool boxes.
Maintaining chilled food at the correct temperature is imperative and a cool box is perfect for safe storage. To prevent bacterial growth, chilled food items should be stored at 5°C or below. The cool box can be kept chilled by using ice or frozen gel packs which should be distributed evenly throughout the box.
The FSA also recommends that the cool box be kept closed as much as possible during the picnic to maintain this lower temperature.
Always ensure that perishable food items are not exposed to the heat for longer than an hour, or two at the very most. After this time, the food will be unsafe to eat and any picnic leftovers should be disposed of when you get home to avoid food poisoning and to prevent infection.
FSA research suggests that over 20 million people in the UK plan to head out for a picnic this summer; but nearly a quarter of those surveyed were worried about picnic food hygiene. It is therefore vital to consider food safety at this time of year and remember that keeping perishable food chilled properly is the most effective way of avoiding summer food bugs which can lead to serious illness.
The information contained in this article has been created for marketing purposes and is not official guidance and should not be used as a substitute for official food safety, health & safety nor fire safety advice.
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