tps-ock-fp-BS~ This post was made possible through the support of Element Associates. All opinions are my own. ~

Summer is a great time to get out and enjoy the warmer temperatures, soak up some rays and enjoy delicious homemade foods.

But, there are risks involved when choosing meals for your cookouts, barbecues and picnics. It’s always best to arm yourself with the facts before biting into that juicy hamburger or steak.

Many people assume that if a hamburger is brown in the middle, it is done. However, looking at the color and texture of food is not enough— you have to use a food thermometer to be sure! 

According to USDA research, 1 out of every 4 hamburgers turns brown before it reaches a safe internal temperature. 

Meat and poultry should be cooked to a safe temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present. Color of meat and poultry is not a good indicator of safety.

Use a food thermometer to make sure meats have reached a safe minimum internal temperature. 

When a hamburger is cooked to 160 F, it is both safe and delicious!
 Want to know more? Check out this Safe Cooking Temperature Chart.




Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of families are not using a food thermometer regularly to check the temperature of meat and poultry and one-third (33 percent) are not using different or freshly cleaned cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination between different food products (such as raw meat and produce). Want to be sure your family is safe? Check out the “Is It Done Yet? brochure.

Food poisoning is not simply an upset stomach; it’s a serious public health threat in America. In fact, the CDC estimates that about 1 in 6 Americans (about 48 million people) could suffer from foodborne illness this year. The result is approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and sadly, an estimated 3,000 deaths!

Because warm weather events often present an opportunity for bacteria to thrive and high temperatures cause bacteria to multiply more rapidly, the summer months typically see a spike in reports of food borne illness and outbreaks.

Check out these top tips for a safe & healthy summer picnic or camping trip:

  • Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the picnic or camping site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
  • Carry cold perishable food like raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
  • Be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. If possible, store these foods near the bottom of the cooler, so that juices don’t contaminate other foods in the cooler.
  • If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your location, plan and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer.
  • A general rule of thumb for entertaining: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
  • The two-hour rule is also in effect: food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. If bringing hot take-out food (like chicken fingers, wings etc.), eat it within 2 hours of purchase (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • Instead of using large serving bowls, serve dips and items with dairy in smaller containers. Make several in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or coolers until you need them.
  • Offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce opportunity for guests to eat items like dip and guacamole directly from the serving container (double-dipping is a no-no and can increase the chances for food contamination).



Join our USDA 4th of July Twitter Party on June 30th at 1 PM EST using hashtag #FoodSafe4th. Hosts include: @martieparty @buzzmommy @usdafoodsafety

Visit to learn about best food safety practices, utilize “Ask Karen,” an online database with nearly 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing food borne illnesses, in both English and Spanish, or to call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.

© 2014, BellaSavvy. All rights reserved.


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82 Responses to Stop Food Poisoning ~ Top Tips for Safe & Healthy Summer Picnics

  • Mommy's Kitchen says:

    I must admit I don’t use a food thermometer but I make healthy food for my family ! Excellent information on your blog.

  • Jacqueline Hargraves says:

    Great. Food Tips

  • Marcia Lee says:

    Thank you the reminders about stopping food poisoning. My favorite tip is Instead of using large serving bowls, serve dips and items with dairy in smaller containers. Make several in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or coolers until you need them. It would be easy enough to prepare 2-3 smaller bowls that can be kept cold and bring them out individually to replace a bowl that is either empty or has been out too long.

  • Brutus Duffy says:

    Never thought about take out food. The 2 hour rule is good advice. Thanks.

  • Shannon says:

    Thank you for sharing these tips with us! A lot of people don’t follow these tips.

  • Terri S says:

    I admit we never use a meat thermometer when we grill, Thank you for sharing all your great tips.

  • jodi Armstrong says:

    I don’t eat or cook meat but my husband does. Im going to bring up the thermometer & brown vs hot issue

  • Jo-Ann Brightman says:

    These are great tips and facts about keeping things safe in the summer. I never thought to use smaller bowls and containers in order to keep them better chilled.

  • Debra Holloway says:

    These are some really good tips. I got food poisoned on mayonnaise. It was the worst.

  • angelia medlin says:

    I am huge on food safety at all times. I always make sure our food is not left out too long and dispose of anything that could potentially harm you. Plus, I am a clean freak andmake sure I wipe everything down to keep down the spread of germs,etc. Thanks for the info.

  • claudia m says:

    thank you for the great food tips ! I wipe everything with bleach down .

  • lisa says:

    I am very careful about food safety. I drive my husband crazy. Everything must be washed, kept at the proper temperature…

  • Monica Nicholson says:

    I think a lot of people forget that you can get food poisoning from fresh fruits and veggies- not just meat. Don’t forget to properly wash fresh fruits and veggies using water and white vinegar.

  • Angie B. says:

    I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever had food poisoning before. I very well might have from things I’ve read. I do need to take some of these tips and put them into action more often

  • Jennifer Clay says:

    I have gotten food poisoning before and omg, it sucked! I hope to never get it again! Thanks for sharing these very useful tips!

  • amy tolley says:

    thanks for all this great info some of it i would have never even thought of thanks for sharing

  • Brigid Ohara Koshko says:

    Fantastic tips. I hear more and more about people who are getting food poisoning and it is often do to simply not using common sense. I am very careful with the temperatures I cook at and make sure my proteins (meat, chicken, etc.) are cooked to the appropriate temps. I do not want anyone in my care to be sick from something I did or forgot to do.

  • Hollie Pollard says:

    So cool I wrote on this topic last week, a cook’s best friend is really a food thermometer. Food safety is so important to a good healthy summer!

  • wen budro says:

    Those are some great tips. I forget about using a meat thermometer when I grill burgers.

  • Ashley Dionne says:

    These are some very good tips. It is so important to be sure your meat is fully cooked!

  • Pam H. says:

    I must admit, I do not always use a meat thermometer when cooking. I need to make it a habit, as you can’t always tell just by going by color.

  • Mary Beth Elderton says:

    I don’t use a thermometer… since we go for well done, I guess I just assume it’s safe. I do pay attention to keeping foods cool. I freeze a couple of blocks of ice and use one to cool the cooler before adding more ice and the food.

  • Birdiebee says:

    Thank you for sharing all of the food safety tips to avoid getting sick. Each year, I need to be reminded of a few that I forgot so this is very helpful.

  • Kylie M. says:

    Great tips. We love to eat outside so we will bethinking about these things from now on.

  • Nitasha E says:

    I’ve always been very paranoid about food poisoning which is why I usually won’t eat leftovers.

  • Rita Spratlen says:

    These are great tips. I have gotten sick 3 times this year with severe vomiting that lasted for 2 days. I was so sick I couldn’t stop throwing up even though there was almost nothing to throw up. I think I got food poisoning or the flu. It was horrible. It is important to not get sick especially when you can help it!!

  • shylo57 says:

    Thank you for this blog. With the hot summers we are having in the past few years, food poisoning is a real threat. It is also advisable to educate college students before sending them away to a dorm. My daughter was hospitalized after getting food poinsoning when a class mate offered her some chineese take out. She was in the hospital for two days and scared me half to death. stay safe!

  • Debra Holloway says:

    I have been food poisoned several times. Each time is was from eating out in a restaurant. Now I avoid certain foods at all costs when I go out to eat.

  • Trish F says:

    All very sound advice. Our family must be doing all the right things as we’ve never had anyone get sick. When we set out foods that need refrigeration we always put it in a larger bowl or pan filled with ice. That help to keep it cool while we serve it.

  • jenn huey says:

    Perfect timing for this article as we are getting close to the 4th of July. I have never used a meat thermometer but I suppose it wouldn’t take that much effort and the benefits of doing so outweigh the risks

  • Amber Gray says:

    I have a food thermometer but have never even thought to use it! Great article, we are taking lots of food on a family vacation and as you said, warm temperatures can be an opportunity for bacteria to thrive so ill be taking my thermometer with me!

  • Jessica Lodge says:

    This is a great list. My family and I got food poisoning from a major chain restaurant this past Mother’s Day and it was awful!!! I was sick for a week and still am not fully back to normal. Trust me everyone follow the tips and do whatever you can to avoid getting food poisoning. It is a horrible thing to go through.

  • Krystal Waters says:

    Thanks for the tips, I hate when people thaw out meat in the sink too, not in the fridge. I need to use a meat thermometer more often especially on pork.

  • Wendi S says:

    I didn’t know that Hamburger still needed to be cooked to 165 degrees on the inside. I was one of those people you thought that if it was brown in the middle it was done.

  • Claire D says:

    Food poisoning is some nasty stuff. Thanks for the tips! Will definitely keep these in mind.

  • Brandy Hebden says:

    I found this post VERY helpful! We have a food thermometer and never use it and we SHOULD! I have never had food poisoning and I don’t want to. I am good about the 2 hour rule and keeping hot stuff hot and cold stuff cold. I hate going to eat with other people though that just least stuff sitting. Thanks so much for sharing!! :)

  • kathy pease says:

    Great tips especially with all the cooking and grilling over the next few days..Happy 4th :)


    Good tips for food safety.. People just need to use their common sense sometimes too.

  • Kayla Siers says:

    Great tips and good reminders about the dangers of cross contamination…especially during the grilling and BBQ season!

  • christine jessamine says:

    this is really good information to know. We go to friends houses often it is good to be cautious.

  • maria c says:

    Thank you for this post. The tips are great and very informative. I didn’t know about the two-hour rule.

  • Lily Kwan says:

    This food safety information is very helpful. Thanks for sharing!

  • alice f says:

    These are wonderful food safety tips! I had food poisoning several years ago and it was awful.

  • Lily @militaryfamof8 says:

    i never knew, i also assumed that because its brown in the middle its done

  • Kelly says:

    Great tips. I never use a cooking thermometer and I really should start. Especially with all the crazy illness that can come from improperly cooked meats.

  • alena svetelska says:

    wow,i should tprepare my meals better,Thank you for the great tips.

  • Christina Sparks says:

    My husband has been wanting to buy a meat thermometer, I guess my next payday I know what I am buying.

  • Lesley F says:

    Great tips, thanks for sharing

  • gianna borden says:

    i’ve luckily only had experience with food poisoning once, i always worry about my kids getting it though, especially with meats, got to make sure they’re cooked properly and heated up again thoroughly for leftovers!!

  • courtney b says:

    i seem to get food poisoning a lot! so i’m taking these tips into a lot of ocnsideration

  • Claire D says:

    My family growing up was the worst with handling foods. We often left stuff out all night for people to pick at and then eat for breakfast. I partly contribute my iron stomach to this. But my fiance is not so lucky. So, yeah, I’ll have to share these tips with him. Thanks!

  • Jana Williams says:

    These are some Really Great Tips to Keep us all Safe not just in the Summer Months, but All Year Round As Well! I have Always kept my Meats in a Separate Cooler than the Rest of my Foods Just to be Sure! My Mom was once Hospitalized for Months from Ecoli Poisoning, although her Particular Strain wasn’t from Food Poisoning, I still saw Just how Dangerous it Could Really Be! She couldn’t eat or drink Anything for Months and she got so Frail! It’s So Scary; So it’s Always Better to be Safe than Sorry! What is it they say? When in Doubt, Throw it Out!

  • Dee @ Bella Savvy says:

    Jana that is always my motto “When in doubt, throw it out” because it’s better to be safe than sorry.

  • Christina Strapp says:

    Really great tips. I hate food poisoning and I try to be so careful.

  • Jill A. Collins says:

    Had to laugh when I saw the advice on no double dipping ~ that’s one that makes me soooooo crazy!

  • Barrie says:

    I have never used a meat thermometer on steaks or hamburgers. I let my hubby cook those and since he used to be a restaurant manager I trust he knows how they should be cooked.

  • Anita says:

    Thanks for the information,I will be sharing

  • April Farley says:

    Very good article to put out this time of year. I am very guilty of not using a meat thermometer. Knock on wood in 31 years no one has gotten ill from it.

  • Anita L says:

    I am guilty of not using a meat thermometer. I really should purchase one. Thank you for these tips to prevent food poisoning.

  • Myrna Kasick says:

    It’s good to be reminded of these things from time to time.

  • Linda H says:

    I already knew most of these, but it’s a great reminder!

  • melisa says:

    These are great pointers. It would be an awful end to a wonderful picnic get-together to get food poisoning. I think it would cause distrust of eating someone’s food in the future if I were to get it from eating someone’s food and I would imagine vice-versa for mine.

  • Linda Meyers-Gabbard says:

    I am guilty of not using a meat thermometer. I do however follow the rest of the things listed. So I’m not doing to bad. So far no food poisoning has occurred from the foods I have cooked.
    I have experienced food poisoning from restaurant foods though. Not a lovely experience at all. Would not wish it on anyone.

  • David Smith says:

    Good idea to check cooked meats with a thermometer any time. We don’t always do that in our house, but we haven’t had any problems. I can’t believe anyone would re-use a cutting board that hasn’t been cleaned that had been used to prepare raw meat and then use it for cooked meat. I am particularly picky about contamination with raw meat contacted surfaces.

  • Ellen Cobb says:

    Great tips. Could always use a good reminder. Don’t need good poisoning to ruin a great summer weekend!

  • Linda Manns Linneman says:

    Food poisoning is so bad and is very common. So many people get very sick with this expecially in the summer going on picnics. Thank you for sharing these very important tips with us



  • Jill Myrick says:

    Excellent article and tips. Some of these i really didn’t know. But always try to be safe when cooking meats or when I am going to be out in the heat with items such as mayo.


  • margaret peg m says:

    to prevent double-dipping in our variety of ‘dips’, i set out dixie cups and small plastic spoons.

  • Dawn Keenan says:

    Having suffered before from food poisoning, I appreciate these tips. I’m going to share them with friends.

  • lisa says:

    Yesterday morning I went grocery shopping and picked up some deli meat. I took the tiniest taste of it when I came home.Several hours later I was so sick. Sick to the point of considering going to the hospital. I was up all night and still not feeling right today. Food poisoning isn’t something to take lightly.

  • wendi watson says:

    we all need these reminders because sometimes just being in a hurry we can do a lot of these wrong

  • Lorayne Gothard says:

    Wow I can’t believe that many people have had food poisoning!! I have had it myself and it is pretty bad!! To think that 3,000 people die every year is just crazy!!

  • DeeAnn S says:

    I like the 2-hour rule best. To many people leave food items out all day!

  • kathy pease says:

    you can never be too careful..Knock on wood no one in my family has ever had food poisoning..Thanks for the great tips :)

  • Barbara S says:

    Great tips some i didn’t know. I always do the when in doubt throw it out rule! I have gotten sick too many times in the past.

  • Jayne T. says:

    I am good with everything but using a thermometer. I don’t know why I don’t just “get with the program” with one, either. They’re not that expensive.

    I am positively OCD about cross contamination, though.


    Great tips. Iwish everyone would follow them. There would be far less food poisoning

  • Sarah L says:

    Potato salad is something I will not eat at picnics. Too easy for it to go bad.

  • Jasmine P says:

    Great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • lisa says:

    I’m still suffering from my bout with food poisoning. I tore a muscle in my rib cage and the area burns when I move. My husband took the meat back and they they gave him double what was paid. Big deal!

  • jenn huey says:

    The last time I tried to take my friend and her kids on a picnic and BBQ at the park I couldnt get her to eat the BBQ pork ribs. I would love to be able to be sure everything is cooked but, I am not going to let it stop me from enjoying food at a BBQ. Actually I was just telling my daughter the other day when I was cooking a turkey that didn’t have the pop up timer that I needed to put a thermometer on my shopping list


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