Keep Foodborne Illnesses from Spoiling Your Summer Picnic

May 27, 2018

When summer arrives, it's the perfect time to head outdoors and enjoy a delightful picnic with family and friends. However, it's important to be aware of the potential risks that come with consuming food outdoors. Foodborne illnesses can quickly turn your summer joy into discomfort. That's why MUIR DIABLO OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE is here to provide you with essential tips to keep foodborne illnesses at bay and ensure a safe and delicious picnic experience.

Why Food Safety Matters

Food safety is a critical aspect when it comes to outdoor gatherings. Foodborne illnesses are caused by consuming contaminated food or beverages, which can lead to various symptoms including diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and more. These illnesses are usually caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or toxins in the food or drinks we consume.

Now, let's dive into some practical tips to minimize the risks associated with foodborne illnesses during your summer picnic:

1. Proper Food Handling and Preparation

Start your picnic on the right foot by ensuring proper food handling and preparation. Here are some key guidelines:

  • Wash your hands: Before handling any food, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Keep foods separated: Avoid cross-contamination by using separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meats, poultry, and produce.
  • Cook food to safe temperatures: Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, and fish are cooked to the proper internal temperatures to kill bacteria.
  • Chill perishable foods: Keep cold dishes cold by using insulated coolers and ice packs. Keep food stored below 40°F (4°C) to prevent bacterial growth.

2. Selecting and Storing Foods

Proper selection and storage of foods are vital to maintain freshness and prevent contamination. Consider these recommendations:

  • Choose fresh ingredients: Opt for fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins from reputable sources.
  • Check expiration dates: Ensure that all pre-packaged foods and beverages are within their expiration dates.
  • Keep foods properly sealed: Store perishable items in airtight containers or resealable bags to prevent spoilage and cross-contamination.

3. Handling Leftovers

After enjoying your picnic feast, it's important to handle leftovers with care to avoid potential health risks:

  • Refrigerate promptly: Place any leftovers in the refrigerator within two hours after cooking or serving to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Use leftovers within a safe timeframe: Consume leftovers within 3-4 days, making sure to reheat them thoroughly before eating.
  • Discard suspicious food: If you're unsure about the safety of a particular food item, it's always better to discard it than risk food poisoning.

4. Hydration and Beverages

Proper hydration is essential, especially during hot summer days. Here are some tips regarding beverages:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay properly hydrated throughout your picnic.
  • Properly handle and store drinks: Keep beverages in sealed containers and avoid leaving them in the heat for too long.
  • Limit alcohol consumption: If you choose to consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation and consider alternatives like non-alcoholic punch or flavored water.


A summer picnic can be a wonderful experience, and by following these guidelines provided by MUIR DIABLO OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE, you can ensure that foodborne illnesses won't spoil the fun. Remember to prioritize proper food handling, preparation, and storage, as well as selecting fresh ingredients and handling leftovers responsibly. Enjoy a safe and delicious summer picnic without worrying about potential health risks.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions or concerns you may have regarding foodborne illnesses or your health.

Sophie Raubiet
Great tips! Staying safe while enjoying summer picnics is crucial. Thank you for sharing these helpful reminders.
Oct 15, 2023