Summer Food Safety: Cookouts, picnics, grilling

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Summer is heating up and warmer temperatures mean it is important to Be Food Safe and keep foods properly chilled while outdoors and on-the-go.

By keeping foods chilled at the proper temperature, you can reduce the risk of foodborne illness to you and your family. It is especially important to take precautions with perishable foods during the summer, as hot weather creates an atmosphere for foodborne bacteria to multiply rapidly.

Special warning about raw seafood

Tips to keep foods cold on the road

  • Pack your cooler just before you hit the road. If you pack meat and poultry while it is still frozen it will stay colder longer.
  • Pack foods in your cooler in reverse-use order: pack foods first that you are likely to use last. By doing this, you avoid having to unpack and repack the cooler along the way.
  • Pack lots of ice or freezer packs to ensure a constant cold temperature. A full cooler will maintain a cold temperature longer than one that is partially filled.
  • Keep drinks in a separate cooler from foods. The beverage cooler will be opened frequently while the food cooler stays closed.
  • Take perishable foods in the smallest quantity needed and pack only the amount of food you think you'll use. Consider taking along non-perishable foods and snacks that don't need to be refrigerated.
  • Don't let food sit out for more than two hours. On a hot day (90° F or higher), food should not be out for more than one hour. When the picnic is over, discard all perishable foods that have been out for two hours or more.

Tips for keeping clean

  • Handwashing matters, especially when you're away from home. Be sure to bring along disposable wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Clean utensils When you switch between cooking different foods.
  • Plates, tongs or trays that hold raw meats should be cleaned well before they touch other foods.

Tips for grilling out

  • Always marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter or outdoors. Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
  • Never use the same plate for raw and cooked food.
  • Cook food to a safe internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Keep grilled food hot until serving time by moving it to the side of the grill rack. Don't let it sit out on a plate or tray.

Safe food temperatures

Measure internal temperature of food when grilling for perfect (and safe) results!

  • 145°F: whole cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and veal (then allow the meat to rest for 3 minutes before carving or eating)
  • 145°F: fish
  • 160°F; hamburgers and other ground beef
  • 165°F; all poultry and pre-cooked meats, like hot dogs

After grilling, keep food at 140°F or warmer until it's served

Find out more

Last reviewed on Sep 6, 2023 request edits
Mississippi State Department of Health 570 East Woodrow Wilson Dr Jackson, MS 39216 866‑HLTHY4U Contact and information

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