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Picnics? BBQ? Add food safety to the menu!

Snohomish Health District wants you to stay healthy

SNOHOMISH COUNTY --- Just as warmer weather brings us outside for barbecues and picnics, it also brings a greater hazard for foodborne illness if food is not handled and prepared safely. Follow these tips to help keep your outdoor meals safe:

  • Plan ahead when preparing for picnics. Always take the right amount of food so you won’t have anything left to bring back home. Discard any perishable or refrigerated leftovers.
  • Pack food in an insulated cooler with a tight fitting lid. Make sure you pack the cooler with enough ice to keep things adequately chilled. Pack salads, deli meats and other such items by nesting them in ice. It’s a good idea to pack food in shallow containers to allow easier and more thorough cooling.
  • At the picnic, keep the cooler in the shade and keep the lid tightly closed. Avoid frequent opening and closing of the cooler as much as possible. Store drinks in a separate cooler from food items.
  • Never leave foods unrefrigerated or unheated for more than two hours.
  • If you are taking raw meat to cook at your picnic, always pack these raw items in a separate cooler from ready-to-eat items. Don’t put cooked foods on plates that held raw meat. Cook everything within one hour of leaving home.
  • Always cook meats to the proper temperature. Keep a product thermometer handy to check the internal temperature of meat while it cooks.
    Cook chicken to 170 degrees F
    Cook beef to a minimum of 145 degrees F, including hamburgers
  • Make sure you have facilities at your picnic to wash your hands, especially if you are grilling raw meat or poultry. Remember to take water, soap and paper towels if they are not available where you’re going.

For more information about food safety, visit our Web site at, or call us at 425.339.5250.

Established in 1959, the Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats.