Food safety in the great outdoors

It’s that time of year (finally!) when the weather warms up and cooking and eating outside becomes more common. I, personally, love a good BBQ or picnic, but extra care must be taken with the food to ensure it is safe to eat.

Did you know? Food can sit at room temperature for only two hours before there is enough bacteria growing on it to potentially make someone sick. In temperatures greater than 90 degrees F (which many times our summers are), food can only sit out for one hour before it presents a food safety hazard. This means that food should be thrown out after two hours at room temperature or one hour at temperatures greater than 90 degrees F. To avoid throwing away good food, refrigerate it at temperatures between 34-40 degrees F before it sits out for one or two hours (depending on temperatures).

Grilling meat? If you are grilling raw meat, take extra care to not cross-contaminate. I really enjoy marinated meats; however, marinating improperly can cause serious problems. To help decrease food safety hazards, it is important to keep the marinade used for raw meat separate from marinade used for cooked foods. While grilling, continually using the marinade the raw meat was in can transport harmful bacteria. To avoid this, make sure to make a separate batch of marinade to be used on the cooked product. Additionally, remember these internal temperatures for meat:

– All Poultry: 165 degrees F

– Fish: 145 degrees F

– Hamburgers or other ground meat (except poultry): 160

degrees F

– Steaks, chops, roasts (beef, pork, veal, lamb): 145 degrees F with 3 minute rest time

Going camping or on an all-day adventure? Going camping or on an all-day outing takes even more care than the regular picnic or BBQ because food needs transported. Here are some tips to keep you and your family safe:

– Use a cooler. Try freezing water in clean, empty milk cartons to create a longer-lasting cold source for coolers.

– Separate. Keep raw food away from food to be consumed immediately. Either double wrap raw meat or poultry packages, or seal them in plastic bags to prevent juices from the raw product from dripping on other foods.

– Keep your hands clean. Take disposable anti-bacterial wipes if you can’t wash your hands they remove more dirt than hand sanitizer.

– Cook on site. It’s difficult to keep hot foods at safe temperatures for extended period of time. Instead, transport chilled foods and cook on site when possible.

Getting outside can be relaxing and fun don’t let a foodborne illness take away the fun!

For more information on food safety, contact the WVU Barbour or Randolph County Extension Service at 304-457-3254 or 304-636-2455, respectively or visit our website at