Barbecues and Picnics

Picnic and barbecue season offers lots of outdoor fun with family and friends. Warm weather is also perfect for foodborne bacteria to grow quickly. Make sure you have potable (drinkable) water at the picnic site for proper handwashing and drinking. It’s important to follow these safe food handling tips:

Safe Preparation Tips

Marinate safely

Always marinate foods in the fridge, not on the kitchen counter.  Never reuse marinating sauce on cooked foods after it has been used to marinate raw meats.

Avoid cross contamination

  • Keep raw meats away from other foods by wrapping and packing them separately.
  • Use separate utensils for raw and ready-to-eat foods. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat. If you don’t have running water, use disposable wet wipes or hand sanitizer.
  • Clean and sanitize cooking equipment, utensils, and work surfaces with a bleach and water solution (1 teaspoon of bleach for every 4 cups of water).

Direct transportation to picnic site

Hazardous foods are foods that can support rapid bacteria growth if the right conditions are met. Examples of hazardous foods are: meat, seafood, deli meat, cheese, milk, etc. Hazardous foods must be stored in coolers with ice packs and be taken to the picnic site as soon as possible. Put a thermometer in the cooler to make sure the temperature is kept at 4ᵒC or lower.

Safe Grilling Tips

Buying Pre-cooked Products

Pre-cooked products such as hamburgers or sausages grill faster and are a great time saver. These foods still must be cooked thoroughly to the minimum temperatures listed below.

Cook food thoroughly

Make sure foods such as steak, pork, chicken, and ground beef are cooked thoroughly. Always use a probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the foods. Insert the stem of the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, or in the centre if the meat being probed is even in size. Make sure the following minimum temperatures are met for at least 15 seconds:

  • Pork: 71°C (160°F)
  • Chicken breast: 74°C (165°F)
  • Whole Chicken: 82°C (180°F)
  • Ground beef: 71°C (160°F)


  • Keep grilled foods at a minimum of 60°C (140°F) until ready to serve by moving them to the side of the grill rack. 
  • Cold hazardous foods should be kept in a cooler with ice and a thermometer to check the temperature. Make sure that the temperature is kept at 4°C (40°F).

Safe Serving Tips

  • Don’t use the same plates and utensils for cooked foods that were used for raw foods.
  • Use clean plates and utensils for serving cooked or ready-to-eat foods such as fruits, salads, and deli meats.

At a picnic, keep the cooler containing hazardous foods in the shade. Do not leave the food in the sun, and serve it as soon as you can.