Above: Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Grab that Shiraz you love and pair it with some smoked Gouda — it’s time to enjoy a picnic! With outdoor picnics, grilling on the weekends or beach vacations, a whole new set of challenges arise when it comes to keeping your foods safe and free from bacteria that could cause food poisoning. You’ve just got to remember four words to have a food-safe picnic: Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.


  • Thoroughly wash your fruits and veggies before leaving home.
  • If there is no running water where you decide to picnic, make sure you have hand sanitizer or wipes ready to save the day.
  • If you’re going to eat at a picnic table, bring a tablecloth that you can wipe down with soap and water or sanitizing wipes.


  • If you plan to grill out, make sure that raw meat is wrapped tightly and kept separate from all other foods.
  • Do not reuse any dishes or utensils that have touched raw meats, unless washed in warm, soapy water.


  • If grilling, bring along a food thermometer to make sure all hot foods are heated to the appropriate temperature. Hamburgers should be cooked to 160 degrees F while all poultry must be cooked to 165 degrees F.


  • Make sure to bring a cooler with plenty of ice and keep the inside at 40 degrees or below.
  • Perishable food should not be left out for more than 2 hours – this includes your cheese, meats, fruits, veggies and sauces! If it’s above 90 degrees outside, perishable food should not be left out for more than 1 hour.
  • Open your cooler as few times as possible and close it quickly. Consider having a separate drink cooler.
  • Keep your cooler out of the sun.

It’s safe to say no one wants to have their picnic or grilling memories ruined with a foodborne illness, so use these easy tips to enjoy the summer!

For more information about food safety, visit the UGA Cooperative Extension website.