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Living Well

Keep Summer Foods Safe

Last updated: Jun 30, 2016

From farmer’s markets to beach picnics and backyard barbecues, good food is a part of a healthy and enjoyable summer. Keeping summer foods fresh and safe to eat can be a challenge.  Check out these summer food safety recommendations before heading out with that picnic basket.

Remember that food stored or prepared incorrectly can lead to food poisoning. 

“Spoiled food can spoil the fun,” says Susan Canonico, a registered dietician at Summit Medical Group. “Before you marinate, grill or pack a picnic, review some summer food safety guidelines.”


Many people enhance the flavor and tenderness of meat, chicken and fish before grilling. 

  • The safest place to marinate food is in the refrigerator.
  • When you are preparing kabobs, make sure that you use two different cutting boards for the raw meat and the vegetables.
  • Never reuse platters and utensils that you’ve used for raw meat, chick or fish. Bacteria is already growing on those dishes and you don’t want to contaminate cooked food with that.
  • It’s best not to reuse your marinade, but if you do, you have to bring it to a rolling boil in saucepan first to kill the bacteria in it.


Transporting food from your kitchen to an outdoor picnic spot or outdoor event can be tricky because food spoils easily. 

“Make sure you pack the food in an insulated cooler and wrap it top and bottom in ice,” says Canonico. 

Summer Food Safety

Other picnic tips include:

  • Don’t store food in the trunk of your car, as there is no air to circulate, and it will feel like an oven and melt the ice.
  • Keep your food out no longer than two hours.
  • Always put foods with a mayonnaise-based or creamy dressing, like potato salad, macaroni salad and egg salad in a water-ice bath while you are serving it rather than leaving it out in the sun or shade.
  • If the temperature is 90 degrees or greater, food should be out not more than one hour.
  • Try to pack some food that won’t spoil in warm weather without refrigeration, like nuts.  Hear some tips for this on SMG Radio’s segment “How to Pack Health Foods and Lunches.”

Wash Your Produce

Another potential summer health hazard is unwashed fruits and vegetables.  If you are out at a farmer’s market, avoid the temptation to eat luscious-looking fresh fruits and vegetables before washing them first.

Wash your hands

When preparing food outside, you should still keep hands clean if there’s no source of water.  Wash your hands prior to eating. Bring along suggestions:

  • Wipes
  • Paper towels and a gallon of water.
  • Moist hand towelettes.

If you feel sick to your stomach and you think it might be food-related, get some medical help.  Summit Medical Group’s Urgent Care Centers offer quick help from doctors and nurses, even on the weekend.  Our Urgent Care Centers are a faster alternative to a hospital emergency room.

Be sure to watch registered dietician Susan Canonico’s video on summer food safety on SMG’s YouTube channel, where you can find other helpful and informative videos on staying healthy.  

Our Nutrition Services are devoted to helping you tailor the best individual diet.

For more information on summer safety,
visit SMG’s website.