Beat the Heat

Foodborne IllnessFor many Americans, barbequing is the preferred way of cooking during the summer months and a great way to bring family and friends together. But as outdoor temperatures rise, foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply. To keep your picnic food safe and to prevent foodborne illness, follow these tips provided by Lakeland Dietitian, Heather Rudnik, RD:


  • Make sure to wash all utensils, surfaces, and your hands before preparing foods.
  • Wash produce under running water before eating, cutting, or cooking.


  • Use separate plates and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat-foods to prevent cross contamination.
  • If you are bringing raw meat to a picnic site, make sure to store in leak proof containers at the bottom of an insulated cooler.
  • Make sure that there is plenty of ice to keep the temperature at 40 ºF or lower.


  • Use a thermometer to make sure that your foods have been cooked to the correct internal temperature, don’t just eyeball it!
    • Steaks, lamb, and pork need to be cooked to 145 ºF with a three minute rest time.
    • Fish needs to be cooked to 145 ºF.
    • Ground beef and egg dishes need to be cooked to 160 ºF.
    • Poultry needs to cook to 165 ºF.
    • Keep grilled foods at 140 ºF until ready to serve


  • If you are bringing cold foods, make sure that they are not left outside of the cooler for longer than two hours (or one hour if it’s above 90ºF outside).
  • To transport cold foods, use an insulated cooler with ice. Drain and replace melted ice frequently. Open the cooler as little as possible and keep it in the shade to keep the contents nice and cool.
  • Foods that must be kept cool include raw and deli meats; tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood salads; cut up fruits and vegetables; and dairy products. 
© Spectrum Health Lakeland 2021