Marinate meats in the refrigerator. If some of the marinade will be used for a dip or basting sauce, make sure it has been boiled for at least 1 minute.

Keep vegetables or fruits intended for grilling separate from raw meats so no one will unwittingly eat an uncooked, possibly contaminated piece of produce.

If you partially cook meat in advance to reduce grilling time, put it on the grill immediately afterward. To transport hamburger patties, fresh meat, or poultry to a picnic site, place the food in a well-insulated cooler that keeps food at 40°F or lower; store food in the cooler until it’s time to start grilling.

Do not return cooked meats to the plates that held them when they were raw. Use a food thermometer to check temperatures of grilled meats. We recommend digital instant-read models for convenience and accuracy.

Store foods as soon as possible…

Serve picnic foods in a shaded area, keeping cold dishes on ice, and hot foods on heating trays. Foods will stay cold longer if you divide them into small portions (for example, prepare several 9” x 12” trays, rather than one large tray). Cold items should be kept below 40°F; hot foods should be 140°F or higher. Do not leave food sitting out for hours; instead, serve a few trays of food as guests arrive, so items will be quickly eaten. Replace empty trays with ones fresh from the refrigerator, oven, or grill.

Leftovers must cool rapidly when moved to the refrigerator or freezer so microorganisms don’t have time to multiply. To speed up cooling, divide large portions into smaller ones and store in shallow containers. Cut meat into portions less than three inches thick.

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