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With summer just around the corner, you’ll no doubt be planning Bar-B-Ques, picnics, camping trips and packed lunches for all your sunny adventures, but you may not have considered the health risks that come with eating outside.

When taking food outside of its usual environment, such as the pantry or refrigerator, the risk of food poisoning is heightened, especially during warm weather. Although the effects may be mild, it’s not a pleasant experience. In worse cases, it can become severe or even life threatening, so it isn’t a subject to take lightly.

Why is there a risk?

Bacteria grows with ease when in the temperature ‘danger zone’ which is anything above freezing but most especially when it’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. Raw meat may contain germs that could lead to salmonella, E. coli, and other diseases or infections.

You’ll also find that when you’re out and about, there are less options for hand washing or sources of clean water.

Food may also be exposed to insects, animals, dust, sand or dirt, all of which could cause contamination.

Are there any foods to avoid?

There are certain foods that present a higher risk than others, due to the fact bacteria can grow more easily on some produce items.

You should generally limit usage of:

Raw meats, including foods containing them such as casserole or tartar.

Dairy products that have been left out too long, including desserts.

Raw Eggs or Raw Seafood. When cooking be sure to cook thoroughly, especially invertebrates such as shrimp, crabs or lobsters.

Any sandwiches that contain any of the foods listed above.