Summer Picnic Health Tips








Avoid putting yourself and others at risk of foodborne illness this summer with these helpful tips

Here's What Happens to Your Food When It Sits Out in the Sun

Summer is here and who's not ready to actually go out and spend time out in the open, with friends, socially distanced from each other, yet at least somewhat having actual human contact that most humans need. Picnics at the park today isn't as simple as it was last year with the new guidelines and restrictions, but it can be just as enjoyable.  One thing that hasn't changed and often take for granted is keeping our foods safe.


What happens to our food when it sits outside in the sun

Have you ever thought about when and how food may spoil if left out in the sun for too long? It's definitely not likely not the first thing that come to mind in many of us, unless you've gotten sick before and traced it to one picnic. You're having a great time, why would you, but this wonderful time can  become a health issue if you're not careful, putting yourself and others at risk. Leaving food out for too long even in room temperature can invite bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, and E. coli to grow, which could ultimately cause foodborne illness. Bacteria can multiply rapidly, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes.  According to the USDA, some bacteria, if left out too long, if allowed to multiply, produce toxins that cannot be killed by cooking or reheating.


How long can we keep foods out in the sun?

Perishable food, or food that requires refrigeration, should not sit out at room temperature for more than two hours, as bacteria can begin to grow and put you at risk of foodborne illness. In the summertime when it's often 90°F and above, perishable food should be removed from the heat after just one hour.


How can we tell if we can still eat the food or not?

If you leave an item out in the sunlight for two hours, or one hour if above 90°F, there is the potential for bacteria growth at dangerous levels, and the product would no longer be considered safe. Common foodborne illness bacteria, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella Enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157: H7, and Campylobacter will multiply rapidly between temperatures of 40°F and 140°F. You will not be able to see and smell these things.

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