Family Cookouts and Food Safety

Throw a Safe Cookout with These Food Safety Tips

People loading up paper plates around a table at a cookout
  • Wash fruits and vegetables ahead of time. There may not be running water at the picnic site.
  • Store raw meat separate from other foods to avoid cross-contamination.
  • Place drinks and perishable foods in separate coolers. When guests grab drinks, they won't expose the perishable items.
  • Use ice packs to keep perishable items at a safe temperature in the cooler.
  • Pack a meat thermometer so you can be sure meats are cooked to safe temperatures.

Storing the food

As you enjoy your time outside, don't forget to:

  • Fill large bowls with ice and set foods that need to stay cool on top. Don't forget to replace the ice as it melts.
  • Keep perishable items in the cooler until time to eat. Make sure these items stay cool. The Food and Drug Administration recommends 40 degrees F or colder.
  • Discard any food that's been sitting out for more than two hours.
  • Keep coolers out of direct sunlight, and avoid opening them excessively.

Cooking the food

The same rules you follow at home apply to cooking outdoors. You'll need to:

  • Cook meat to the proper temperature to destroy potentially harmful bacteria. Hamburgers are safe to eat at 160 degrees F, according to the USDA.
  • Separate different types of raw meat from each other.
  • Don't place cooked meat on a plate that once held raw meat. This goes for utensils too. Switch out your tongs to serve cooked meat.
  • Place cooked meats in a pan by the side of the grill. The heat will help maintain a safe internal temperature.


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The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm®. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.