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HomeHealth & FitnessDon't Let Outdoor Dining Become a Feast for Germs

Don't Let Outdoor Dining Become a Feast for Germs

WASHINGTON, May 23, 2023 – As summer looms, millions of Americans will head to national parks, beaches and camping trips. When packing sunscreen, bug spray and picnic blankets, be sure to keep some of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food safety tips with you.

“USDA reminds summer travelers not to let your outdoor dining become a feast for germs,” said Dr. Emilio Esteban, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety. “Bacteria grow faster in summer because it’s warmer and more humid. Use cold sources to safely pack perishable foods and wash your hands thoroughly when preparing food. )

Avoid danger areas

Food with temperatures between 40 F and 140 F is in the danger zone and has only a limited amount of time before becoming a food safety risk.

  • Remember to refrigerate perishables for two hours, or within an hour if it’s hot (90+ degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Serve in ice cubes on a picnic table or in a cooler until ready to eat.
  • Keep food hot by placing food at 140°F or above on a heating tray or grill.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions, store them in small containers, and store them in a cooler below 40°F.

    road safety

    • Make sure your cooler is filled with ice or a freezer cold source to help keep perishable foods safe.
    • Pack beverages In one cooler, pack perishable food in another cooler. Beverage coolers may be opened frequently, causing temperature fluctuations inside the cooler and making it unsafe for perishable foods. Keep in the shade.
    • The full cooler will keep your perishables cold and safe for longer than half full.
    • Fill the extra space in the cooler with more ice. You can pack food when it freezes to keep it cold.


  • If you will be camping or backpacking for more than a day, please plan ahead for when your cooling source runs out. Consider packing shelf stable items that do not require refrigeration.
  • Shelf-stable options include:
  • Prepackaged, Shelf-Stable Meals
  • Plastic Jar Peanut Butter
  • Juice Concentrate Box
  • Canned tuna, ham, chicken and beef
  • Vermicelli and soup
  • Beef jerky and other shelf-stable meats
  • Dehydrated foods
  • whole or dried fruit
  • nuts
  • milk powder and juice drink
  • wash your hands

    rice Wash your hands before.

    • If running water is available, follow proper hand washing procedures to prevent the spread of germs from your hands to your in food. Make sure to wet your hands, work up a lather with soap, scrub for 20 seconds, rinse and dry.
    • If running water is not available, use hand sanitizer or a damp washcloth with at least 60% alcohol.
    • Do not use water from streams and rivers. The water is untreated and unsafe to drink.

    For more information on food safety, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1- 888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email [email protected] or live chat at, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

    Access press releases and other information on the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) website at

    Follow FSIS on Twitter at or in Spanish:

    USDA impacts the lives of all Americans every day in many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris administration, USDA is transforming the U.S. food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, providing a fairer market for all producers, and ensuring access to safe, healthy food for all communities and nutritious food, build new markets and channels to increase income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, make historic investments in rural America’s infrastructure and clean energy capabilities, and commit to building new markets and channels by removing systemic barriers and Build a more American-representative workforce to achieve equity across the sector. To learn more, visit


    USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lenders.



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