Food Safety Tips

As Memorial Day approaches its time to start paying more attention to outdoor food safety.

May 8, 2019 | 2 min reading time

This article is 2 years old. It was published on May 8, 2019.

Although Memorial Day is the official holiday for remembering and honoring those who died while serving in the U.S. military, it is also the unofficial start of outdoor eating activities including outdoor grilling, picnics and cookouts. As Memorial Day approaches its time to start paying more attention to outdoor food safety. “Warmer temperatures require heightened attention of food safety when cooking and eating outdoors,” said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of health for the City of St. Louis. The Department of Health is encouraging residents to add the following USDA food safety tips to their outdoor food preparation and eating activities to reduce the risk of contracting a foodborne illness.

If you bring food to a picnic or cookout, remember:

  • To use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food also works well as a cold source.
  • Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, or seafood); cut up fruit and vegetables; and perishable dairy products.
  • A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
  • Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer.

When grilling:

  • Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat and ready-to-eat items like vegetables or bread.
  • Keep perishable food cold until it is ready to cook.
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked thoroughly to their safe minimum internal temperatures
    • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145 °F with a 3-minute rest time
    • Ground meats: 160 °F
    • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165 °F
  • Always use a fresh, clean plate and tongs for serving cooked food. Never reuse items that touched raw meat or poultry to serve the food once it is cooked.

Serving food outdoors:

  • Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In hot weather (above 90 °F), food should NEVER sit out for more than one hour.
  • Serve cold food in small portions, and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served – at 140 °F or warmer.
  • Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.

For additional information on outdoor food safety tips visit the CDC website at

  • Department:
    Department of Health
  • Topic:

Most Read News

  1. St. Louis City and County to Require Masks to Limit Spread of COVID-19 Delta Variant As COVID-19 hospitalizations rise and the Delta variant spreads, the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County will require masks to be worn in indoor public places and on public transportation beginning Monday.
  2. Joint Statement from St. Louis City and St. Louis County on Sharp Increase in COVID-19 Cases The City and County will continue to urge everyone to wear masks, even if you are vaccinated.
  3. City Refuse Division Directs Residents to Nearly 30 Recycling Bins as Hiring Efforts Continue Longstanding labor shortage in the department impacts collection of recyclables.

Was this page helpful?      

Comments are helpful!
500 character limit

Feedback is anonymous.