The time for picnics and outdoor BBQ’s is here, and I want to send out some reminders for keeping the fun times safe from food-borne illness.
Keep cold food safe by maintaining a temp below 40 degrees F to prevent bacteria from growing. Use a cooler and make sure that all of the food is cold when you put it in the cooler. Keep frozen foods on the bottom to help keep other foods cold.
Keep cooked and raw foods in separate containers, and grace ground beef and other meats in separate zip-top plastic bags. Fill the cooler with ice packs or frozen water bottles just before leaving the house, and keep lid closed until you are ready to serve the food.
Keep hot food hot! Food needs to be a 140 degrees or hotter to prevent harmful bacteria growth. Wrap in towels and newspaper or insulated container to keep at correct temperature. Keep food covered to prevent exposure and contamination by insects.
Follow the 2 hour rule: Don’t leave perishable food unrefrigerated for more than two hours.
And … my favorite “nurse” lecture: Wash your hands before and after handling food! I always have hand sanitizer at the ready in case I am not near a clean running water source.
We also need to take care of our bodies in these beautiful summer days: sunscreen; wide brim hats; sun shades for the youngest, in addition to sunscreen and a head covering. Eye protection with appropriate sun glasses is so very important, as well.
Another necessary item to put in the picnic supplies is insect repellent and something appropriate for bites and stings. With food comes bees and a sting can ruin the fun in a hurry if we aren’t prepared to ease the discomfort. Check your surroundings, too. I can recall at least two picnics that were made very uncomfortable when the young ones explored and found poison oak and poison ivy. Take time to learn how to identify these pesky plants and keep the exploring to a safer area.
Proverbs 2:11 tells us that “discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you”. I pray that your summer fun is just that, and you are protected by our ever present and caring Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Have a fun week beginning summer taking care of the body that was so graciously given to you.
Cynthia Rutan, RN, Parish Nurse at Peace, firstname.lastname@example.org