Planning a Memorial Day Picnic? Keep Foods Safe With These Rules

Memorial Day honors those who lost their lives serving their country. For many families across the U.S., it’s a day to attend a Memorial Day parade before gathering for a family picnic or backyard barbecue.

Every year, the CDC estimates that about 48 million people in the U.S. eat something that gives them a foodborne illness like E.coli or salmonella. Of those, almost 130,000 end up in the hospital. Older adults are more susceptible to food poisoning.

Keep your mom safe from food poisoning, one of the bigger risks of a picnic meal. These tips help you keep foods safe.

Bring Lots of Ice

In-Home Care Northbrook, IL: Memorial Day Picnic

In-Home Care Northbrook, IL: Memorial Day Picnic

Fill a cooler with ice. That’s the cooler that deli meats, cheeses, and cold salads need to be stored in. Items that are meant to be refrigerated need to stay in a cooler to avoid warming up and allowing bacteria to grow.

If you’re bringing meats to grill, make sure those meats are kept on ice, too. As the meat packaging may leak, the ice in that cooler should not be added to drinks.

When you take a salad out to serve it, make sure it goes back into the cooler as quickly as possible. Generally, the rule is to not let it sit out for more than one or two hours, but in the hot sun, this timeline can be much shorter.

Non-Perishable Foods Can Go in Bags

Foods like tortilla chips, potato chips, and whole fresh fruit don’t have to be refrigerated. Those can be carried in bags. If the fruit is peeled or chopped up, it needs to be on ice.

Cook Meats to the Proper Temperature

Bring an instant-read meat thermometer. You want the meat to be cooked to the proper temperature. This is usually a minimum of 145 F for steaks and pork that haven’t been ground. If they’ve been ground, they need to be 160 F or higher. Fish steaks and filets also should be grilled to 145 F. Poultry has to be 165 F or higher.

What if your mom likes veggie burgers? For the plant-based meat products, cook them to the temperature listed on the packaging, which is usually 160 to 165 F. If you’ve made your own, it’s a good idea to go with a minimum of 145 F. Bacteria usually die between 145 and 160F.

What About the Rest of the Time?

When your mom’s alone, is she carefully preparing the foods she eats? If she leaves meat out to thaw on the counter or doesn’t put leftovers away until several hours later, she’s risking her safety. It’s time to address having in-home care aides to help her with meal preparation.

Caregivers can cook meals for your mom and put away leftovers immediately. Her caregivers can track the leftovers in her refrigerator to make sure she’s not eating spoiled foods. They’ll also clean the counters, wash dishes, and sanitize cooking surfaces.

Learn more about in-home care services by talking to a home care specialist. You’ll go over possible services and pricing. Reach out to us online or by phone to get started.

If you or an aging loved one are considering In-Home Care in Northbrook, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.