Summer Picnic Tips

Take Safety on Your Picnic

Jeannie M. Leonard

Family and Consumer Science Extension Agent

iStock_000017115104XSmall_300x199Picnicking is a special part of many summertime activities. If picnic foods are not handled safely, they can cause food borne illness. To prevent illness, take safety on your picnic.

Picnic foods can be hazardous for several reasons. Food receives a lot of handling. Picnic foods—such as potato or macaroni salads, sandwich fillings, hamburger patties, and cut watermelon—often receive a lot of handling during preparation. Handling increases the risk of contamination with harmful bacteria.

Food is not cooled rapidly after cooling is another hazard. Some common picnic foods require precooking and are prepared in large quantities. Cooked foods must be rapidly cooled by putting in shallow pans and refrigerating immediately after cooking so harmful bacteria does not grow. Warm temperatures promote bacterial growth.great-picnic-food

Another hazard is that equipment to keep hot food hot and cold food cold is usually not used and food sits out for long periods of time. Warm temperatures support the growth of harmful bacteria. The longer food is at warm temperatures, the more likely food borne illness will result.

The following guidelines will help keep your picnic food safe:

  • Wash hands before handling food and use clean utensils and containers. Dirty hands, utensils, containers and any work surfaces can contaminate food with harmful bacteria and viruses.
  • Do not prepare foods more than one day before your picnic unless it is to be frozen. Cooking foods in advance allows for more opportunities for bacteria to grow. Cooked foods need to be rapidly cooled in shallow pans. Spread the food out in as many pans as is needed so that food is no more than two inches deep. Over 67% of reported cases of food borne illnesses are due to improper cooling. Frozen foods can be used if thawed in the refrigerator.
  • Mayonnaise-based foods need to be kept cold. Mayonnaise alone is too acidic for bacteria to grow in it. However, when mayonnaise is mixed with other foods, (particularly those that have been handled a lot and/or are protein foods), bacteria can grow if this mixture is kept too warm.
  • Cut melons need to be kept cold. Many people do not realize that melons, such as watermelon and cantaloupe, can cause food borne illness. Bacteria, such as Salmonella and Shigella (common causes of food borne illness), are often present on the rind. Therefore, be sure to wash melons thoroughly before cutting, then promptly refrigerate cut pieces. Melons, unlike most other fruits, are not acidic and so can support the growth of harmful bacteria.
  • Keep cold food cold. You need to keep cold food at 40 degrees F. or colder to prevent bacterial growth. To do so, pack cold foods in a sturdy, insulated cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs. Freeze your own blocks of ice in milk cartons or plastic containers for use in the cooler. Put cold foods in water-proof containers or wrap in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and completely immerse in the ice inside the cooler. If using frozen gel packs or containers of homemade ice, place them between packages of food. Keep the cooler closed until ready to use the contents.
  • The trunk of your car can reach temperatures of 150 degrees F., so it is best to transport coolers in the passenger area of the car. When you arrive at the picnic site, put a blanket over the cooler and place it in the shade to maintain cold temperatures. Keep the cooler closed until ready to use the contents.
  • Keep hot food hot. You should keep hot foods at 140 degrees F. or hotter to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Takeout foods or foods cooked just before being transported to the picnic can be carried hot. Wrap hot food in towels, then in newspaper, and place inside a box or heavy paper bag. Keep these foods warm on a lit grill or use within one hour.
  • If you cannot keep cold food cold and hot food hot, take foods that do not need refrigeration. For example, peanut butter sandwiches, dried fruit, nuts, unpeeled fresh fruit (apples, oranges, bananas), jelly sandwiches, unopened cans of food (meat, fish, or fruit), cookies, cakes, and crackers are all good choices.
  • Wash your hands. Pack moist towelettes if you think your picnic site might not have hand washing facilities available. Hands carry harmful bacteria and viruses that contaminate food and cause illness.
  • Pack plenty of utensils and dishware. Never use the utensils and dishware that have touched by raw foods, such as meat, fish and poultry, to store fresh or cooked foods unless they have been washed between uses. Juices from some raw foods contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods and cause food borne illness. Because proper washing might be difficult at a picnic, pack extra plates and utensils to prevent cross-contamination. Better yet, consider using disposable plates.
  • Whether you are cooking indoors or outside on a grill, meat and poultry must be cooked thoroughly to ensure that harmful bacteria are destroyed. Grill raw poultry until the juices run clear and there is no pink close to the bone. Hamburgers should not be pink in the center.
  • Prevent contamination of food by insects by keeping the foods covered. Many insects can carry harmful bacteria and viruses on their bodies.
  • At the end of the picnic, you should throw away leftovers, because most of them have been sitting out for more than one hour and have had many people handling them. The more time that food has been sitting at unsafe temperatures, the more likely harmful bacteria has grown.
  • Cold foods kept in a cooler that still has ice may be safe. If the ice is melted, throw out the food. Cold water cannot keep foods cold enough to be safe.

Summer Eating Tips

Ways to Safely Enjoy This Summer’s Bountyfresh-fruits-vegetables-2419

Jeannie M. Leonard

Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent

Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. Remember these tips when purchasing produce at the grocery store, nearby farmers’ markets or picking from your garden.

  • You should select fruits and vegetables that are not bruised, shriveled, moldy or slimy. If vegetables or fruits are pre-packaged, be sure the surfaces are not bruised or moldy.
  • Purchase only what you need. For optimum flavor and nutritional value, you need to use fruits and vegetables within a few days.
  • You need to promptly store any produce that needs to be refrigerated.
  • Be sure to wash produce under cool, running water just before you use it. This applies to all fruits and vegetables, even if you don’t eat the rind or skin, such as melons and oranges. Washing a melon can help remove any bacteria that could be transferred onto the inside fruits when the melon is sliced open with a knife.
  • Leafy greens, such as lettuce, should be rinsed before refrigerating to maintain crispness. Paper towels place between the greens will slow deterioration.
  • Do not use detergent when washing fruits and vegetables. Use a vegetable brush to scrub hearty vegetables, such as potatoes and carrots, if you want to eat the fiber-and-nutrient-rich skin.
  • Be sure to keep refrigerators clean and cold. Cover and refrigerate produce you have cut. Refrigerator temperatures should be between 37 and 39 degrees F.
  • Always clean surfaces, utensils, and hands before handling fresh produce.
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and before preparing food.
  • Read and follow label instructions such as “keep refrigerated” or “use by” dates.
  • Keep prepared fruit salads and other cut produce items in the refrigerator until just before serving.
  • Discard cut produce items if they have been out of the refrigerator for four hours or more.

By following a few guidelines in the kitchen, you and your family enjoy goodness from the garden safely.


Summer slim down

It’s About More Than Weight loss

By: Julie Williams

101612535312873362_bsfdfkow_c3Slim Solutions of Lexington has served the community for over 16 years. With a bachelor degree in sports medicine as well as having spent eleven years in the medical field, my knowledge of the human body and how it operates is extensive. Most recently, I’m working on a certification from UNCG as a health coach. I feel all these attributes will help me as the new owner of Slim Solutions.

Slim Solutions Weight loss and nutritional support is a program developed to help individuals become healthier through weight management. The program has been approved by the NC Board of Dietetics and Nutrition. The program we offer concentrates on your overall health. Through various health coaching techniques we teach you on how to become empowered to change your life by emphasizing healthy eating habits, learning about portion sizes and how to read nutritional food labels. My goal is for you to become an active participant in your weight loss goal. I want to partner with you give emotional support during the weight loss journey to change your life. Weight gain can be affected by many variables; medication ,hormones, digestive issues, low metabolism, age, lack of sleep 210709-kak-pohudet-v-sportzale-i-sauneand stress, to name a few. The program allows an individual to lose about 2-3 pounds per week by eating real food from the grocery store or restaurant. All weigh-ins are confidential and done one on one allowing you to feel comfortable.  Weight loss can be difficult and having someone to listen to you and help inspire you to maximize your own abilities. There’s not a quick fix, no pills or injections, but a lifestyle change that lets you lose weight in a healthy way. Slim Solutions is the solution to a slimmer you by changing lives one pound at a time.

I look forward to the future of Slim Solutions and to working with all of you. I would like to thank the community and the clients for supporting me through the transition. Call today for a free consult 336-224-5325. Follow us on Facebook or at: or

Slim Solutions Weight Management System Over View:

  • Preliminary Phase: In preparation for the weight loss phase your body must be cleansed of retained salt, refine sugar and caffeine. This phase approximately last six days.
  • Weight loss Phase: The food plan best suited for your individual needs will be assessed and outlined for you along with behavioral modifications and emotional support.
  • Transitional Phase: Once your goal weight has been achieved, a strategic method of caloric increase will begin. Your body’s metabolic rate will become more stable. Then graduation into maintenance may begin.
  • Maintenance: We provide the structure and skill development necessary to remain successful at maintaining your new goal weight.



Summer Reading Library

9706876db76989c1c82e8b05628a950eSummer is a time of fun and sunshine for people of all ages. For our youth, summer is the ideal time to encourage them to maintain and further develop their literacy skills. It is also a great opportunity to encourage the whole family to visit the library regularly. For these reasons, the Davidson County Public Library is excited to launch their summer reading program, “Every Hero Has a Story.”Through its Summer Reading Program, the library staff hopes to instill positive learning habits and foster long-term literacy skills among youth. According to Library Director Ruth Ann Copley, summer reading programs are important for youth to participate in because it helps mitigate the “summer slide,” which is when students lose literacy skills over the summer because their minds are not being stimulated educationally.

The summer slide, or summer learning loss as others also call it, is not a matter to be taken lightly. According to the National Summer Learning Association, research over the years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of a summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer. Moreover, a 2010 report released by Dominican University shows that students who participate in library summer reading programs score higher on standardized reading tests than those who do not participate in them.

imagesThere are five branches of the Davidson County Public Library: Lexington, Thomasville, North Davidson, Denton and West Davidson. The summer reading program will revolve around the superhero theme. A wide range of programs and events accommodating children, teens and adults will be held throughout the summer at each of the libraries. Each program begins with a kickoff to introduce the theme, get patrons registered and excite the participants about the coming events. Some of the events scheduled for this year’s children’s programming include a Hero-Con, LEGO-Palooza, obstacle course, super hero costume party and, of course, movies. All types of superheroes will be explored: fictional heroes, community heroes, military heroes and even animal heroes. The teen program, “Heroes: Unmasked,” will include community and animal heroes, craft and mask making as well as a craft challenge, and even a game of Superhero Jeopardy. And finally, the adult program, ”Escape the Ordinary” will have programs about Civil War heroes, making essential oils, creating jewelry and even tracking down genealogy heroes.

For more information about the Davidson County Public Library, see the library’s website:

For more information about the Summer Reading Program, please call your local branch for a schedule of events and times. Come check us out and be a superhero this summer at the Davidson County Public Library.images (1)

Lexington – 242-2040

Thomasville – 474-2690

North Davidson – 242-2050

Denton – 859-2215

West Davidson – 853-4800