Make sure you plan to eat somewhere you can sit on a blanket or a chair in order to protect yourself from ticks. Make sure to pack a food thermometer, a cooler chest with ice, clean utensils, storage containers for leftovers, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and trash bags. Bring a table (if there isn't already one) to keep the food away from the ground and safe from contamination. If you're grilling, bring a grill and be sure to follow our grill safety tips.
Make sure that you bring any perishable foods (hot dogs, burgers, poultry, deviled eggs, macaroni or potato salad, for example) in a well-insulated cooler with ice or freezer packs to keep them cold. Do not partially cook meat ahead of time, it is safer to cook meat and poultry to a safe internal temperature at the picnic. Keep in mind that cooking frozen meat or poultry will take about 50% longer than fully thawed or fresh meat and poultry. If you wish to thaw your meat before the picnic, check out the USDA's Safe Thawing Methods.
At the Picnic
Always wash your hands before preparing food. You can use disposable wipes or hand sanitizer if you do not have running water. Be sure to keep the cooler in the shade to preserve food. Do not let food sit out of the cooler for more than an hour in temperatures at or above 90 degrees. Use a food thermometer to be sure that your meat and poultry is cooked thoroughly. Serve food items on a clean platter, with utensils that have not touched the raw food. Regularly apply sunscreen and insect repellent in order to avoid skin-damaging sun exposure and insect bites.
After the Picnic
Packing leftovers will allow you to reduce food waste. Refrigerate leftover meats and salads, but throw them away if they have become warm. Make sure to bring anything you brought with you, out with you. In order to preserve Nantucket's ecosystems, it is very important that no trash is left behind. In addition, if you or your guests were in an area where ticks are prevalent, be sure to shower and check yourself for ticks when you get home.
Image courtesy of Food Safety