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With many families hoping to enjoy outdoor picnics all summer long, the Will County Health Department once again reminds everyone of some simple safety tips.

1. Remember the importance of washing your hands and washing all work surfaces (cutting boards, picnic tables, etc) with soap before use.  This also applies to all utensils and the grill itself.  All utensils for different foods (meat, produce, deserts, etc) must be kept separated, and must be washed when being used for a new job (such as moving from meat to produce/salads).

2. Clean all produce, by rinsing fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in your cooler for transporting.  This includes produce with skins and rinds that are not eaten.

3. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold.  Cold food should be stored at 41 degrees or lower, and should be transported to an from picnic locations in an insulated cooler.  For information on proper cooking temperatures for various meats, click here.

4. The “temperature danger zone” for foods is 41 degrees to 135 degrees Fahrenheit.  This is also why leftovers should be packed immediately, and not left out for a long period of time.

5. Do not cross-contaminate.  Marinades and sauces that have touched raw meat must NOT be re-used at the table.  Use fresh utensils and a fresh plate to remove cooked meat from the grill.

For more on food and picnic safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, click here.