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Let's eat outside!

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Summer is the season for eating outdoors. However, it's also the favourite season of bacteria, which never take a vacation. To ensure the memories of your latest picnic or camping trip are good ones, remember one thing: safety!

Milk, yogurt, cheese, meat, eggs... all foods, even perishable ones, are great additions to an outdoor meal. You simply need to take precautions. Here are some tips for a successful feast.

  1. Pre-freeze everything that can be frozen. Milk, meat (raw or cooked), sandwiches (without raw vegetables, mayo or eggs), bread, juice and liquid eggs in a carton all freeze very well. They will slowly thaw in your cooler or insulated bag while keeping other foods cold.
  2. Prepare meats at home. Debone raw meat, cut it up and then place it with a marinade in a resealable plastic bag. You can also get different ready-to-cook products at the grocery store, such as burgers, kebabs or steaks, that are vacuum-packed and frozen or refrigerated. In addition to speeding up your meal preparation, these products will reduce the handling of raw meat and the risk of bacterial contamination. Another tip: cook more perishable meat, such as ground beef, ahead of time.
  3. Package foods correctly. Particularly raw meat with (possibly contaminated) juice that may come into contact with other foods, especially ready-to-eat products like yogurt, cheese, fruit, veggie sticks and salad.
  4. Package food items properly. First of all, get a good-quality cooler or insulated bag. Just before leaving, put the most perishable foods, such as milk products or meat, at the bottom. Cover these foods with ice or ice packs and then top with the less perishable or more fragile items, such as juice, fruit, vegetables, bread and condiments.
  5. Protect food from the sun. Once you arrive at your destination, place your cooler or insulated bag in the shade and cover it with a pale-coloured blanket, which will provide additional insulation from the heat. If possible, also move your picnic table to a shady area.
  6. Avoid constantly opening your cooler. It helps to have two coolers: one for perishable foods and the other for cold drinks.
  7. Replace the ice and empty the water regularly. This will keep your cooler nice and cold inside.
  8. Quickly cook thawed meat. Preferably within 24 hours after it is thawed.
  9. Avoid leaving foods out at room temperature. Take them out of the cooler just before you use them and put any leftovers back in the cooler once you're done eating.
  10. Bring foods that don't need refrigerating. Powdered or UHT milk (that has not yet been opened), firm fruit and vegetables (apples, bananas, citrus fruit), bread, crackers, pancake mix, rice, pasta, cereal, and canned meat, legumes and fish can be kept at room temperature and won't take up space in your cooler or insulated bag.
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