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Offering tips on having a safe picnic

By By Patty Swearingen / MSU extension service county director
July is National Picnic Month.
Is it any wonder, given the number of people on vacation and the casual living summer dictates?
Since I am enjoying this long weekend at Lake Sinclair in south Georgia with my family and doing a lot of outside activities, I thought we all could use a refresher course on food safety. Nothing can put a damper quicker on a family picnic than food poisoning.
You may pack elegant foods into chic wicker baskets or stuff enormous coolers with hot dishes and cold salads, yet no matter what kind of container you put your food in don't forget to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
Another vital rule to follow when picnicking or camping or just carrying a lunch, is to keep everything that touches food clean and germ-free. This includes countertops, cutting boards, bowls, utensils, plates and hands.
Refrigerator storage
If you must prepare food the night before, store it in the refrigerator. Ham, potato or macaroni salad, hamburgers, lunch meats, cooked meats and deviled eggs should be transported in a cooler surrounded by freezer packs.
Although mayonnaise-based salads should be kept on ice at all times, the mayonnaise you buy at the store is not the food poisoning villain it's purported to be. It's high acid content can actually slow bacterial growth.
Lack of refrigeration is always a problem when carrying food to an outdoor picnic area. For short trips, don't take any more ice-requiring foods than you can use within a few hours.
Keep that picnic hamper in a shaded area and if the ice or chiller pack melts and you have leftovers, leave them behind.
A little prevention before you go on that picnic or camping trip should guarantee a safe and healthy time for all.
Child care training
On July 28, from 6 p.m.-8 p.m., there will be a child care training at Meridian Community College. Deborah VanDevender, child and family development area agent will teach a session called "exciting backyard science activities."
The cost is $5, which includes light refreshments and materials. You will receive two contact hours. The deadline for registration is July 18.
If you are interested in attending this training, please send your fees to Deborah VanDevender, MSU Extension Service, P.O. Box 339, DeKalb, MS 39328.
Servsafe
Servsafe will be taught in Lauderdale County on Aug. 7 and Aug. 14 at the Lauderdale County Extension Office.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the sessions run 9 a.m.-4 p.m. both days. Evelyn Acklin, the nutrition and food safety agent, will teach this two-day course. The cost is $100, which includes the book and computer answer sheet.
If you need this training, please call the Lauderdale County Extension Office at 482-9764.

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