Outdoor Food Safety

From tailgating and picnics to birthday parties and family reunions, there are so many opportunities to enjoy the families and friends in the great outdoors. To help you, your family and your friends stay safe while celebrating outdoors, follow these tips.

  • Pack plenty of clean utensils. To avoid cross contamination, do not use utensils or serving plates that have been used on raw product when handling cooked products.
  • Use separate coolers for drinks and raw foods to prevent the tops of the beverages from being contaminated by raw food products.
  • When grilling outside or picnicking, you do not always have access to potable water for wash/rinse/sanitize procedures on serving platters. Therefore, you should bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  • Wash your hands. Sanitizer can be used as a second line of defense, but it can't replace washing with soap and water when dealing with food products.
  • Cook all raw meat products to the proper temperature using the guide below. Keep hot foods hot (at least 135 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold foods cold (41 degrees Fahrenheit or below). This includes coolers. To ensure they stay below 41 degrees Fahrenheit, store them in the shade.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. If pastas, rice or high protein dishes, including beans, have been held off temperature for more than 2 hours, discard them. The general rule is four hours, but during summer months, it is reduced to two hours.


All poultry

165 °F

Ground meats

160 °F

Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, roasts, and chops

145 °F**

Leftovers, reheating

165 °F

**as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures.