Lichfield District Council is backing the Food Standards Agency’s campaign to help everyone avoid food poisoning when heading out for a picnic this summer.
As soon as the weather warms up, people across the country head to the great outdoors for a picnic, but al fresco dining doesn’t come without worry about food hygiene.
There are more than one million cases of food poisoning every year in the UK and cases of food poisoning from Campylobacter, E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella rise in the summer months.
Picnickers could be putting themselves at risk by leaving their food out for longer than the recommended two hours, carrying food to picnics in containers such as plastic bags and picnic baskets, rather than the recommended cool boxes, and putting picnic leftovers back in the fridge or using them for a meal the next day, regardless of how long they have been left out.
To help everyone enjoy their summer picnics without worry the FSA has put together these easy to follow tips:
- Clean up first – rinse fresh fruits (including those with rinds) and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cool box.
- Keep cold food cold – place cold food in a cool box with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 5 °C or below to prevent bacterial growth.
- Organise your cool box – pack drinks in one cool box and perishable foods in another. If using freezer packs (frozen drinks work), distribute them throughout the box – not all at the bottom.
- Keep your cool box closed – once at the picnic site, limit the number of times the cool box is opened as much as you can. This helps to keep the contents cold for longer.
- Pack away your picnic – once you’ve served it, dishes should not sit out for longer than two hours, or one hour if it’s very hot outside. After this, the risk of bacteria increases and it becomes unsafe to eat, so best to throw it away when you get home. Pack away food so that your guests are not tempted to nibble later. To waste less, pre-plan portion sizes according to the size of your party and only pack what you need.
Councillor Doug Pullen, Cabinet Member for Regulatory Services, Housing & Wellbeing for Lichfield District Council, said: “Food safety should play an important part when planning a summer picnic. By following the FSA’s five simple steps, which focus on keeping food cool, upset tummies can be easily avoided, so head out and enjoy the weather and your picnics.”