Keep Cold Food Cold
Traditional picnic baskets may look pretty, but they won’t keep your food at a safe temperature for long. And since it’s necessary to discard any food that has been left out in the summer sun for more than two hours (one hour if the temperature exceeds 90 degrees), choose a well-insulated cooler filled with ice instead.
Though a cooler is never an ideal replacement for a refrigerator because a home refrigerator should be kept at 40 degrees or below, there are four easy ways to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria:
- Keep coolers out of direct sunlight and use separate food and beverage containers to help maintain a lower temperature. On a hot summer day, you should be drinking plenty of water so the beverage cooler will likely be opened (and thus exposed to warmer temperatures) more frequently.
- Nestle bowls of summer salads in larger bowls of ice to direct cooling and insulate food.
- Full coolers tend to stay cold longer. If your cooler has empty space, fill it with ice.
- If traveling by car, don’t store your cooler in the trunk—the temperature is typically lower in the passenger area.