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How Long Can You Leave Your Food Out In The Sun?

When you have a lot of food in the picnic, the sun will, no doubt, be out and beating on your food. Even though it is winter, the sun here down under remains very strong. So if you were having a feast, how long does the food last while it soaks up the golden rays?

Perishable foods is a breeding ground for bad bacteria in our food. But it’s not like there is an exact amount of time you can leave food out of the fridge. Yes, there is basic two-hour rule that many professionals suggest but this changes depending on temperature. If it’s a particularly hot day—anywhere near 30° Celsius—make that just one hour.

The Sun Breakdown

For foods that contain meat, poultry or fish, it definitely needs to be consumed within the two-hour rule. If the meat is yet to be cooked, keep the raw product out of the sun’s rays until it goes on the grill, wash all cutting boards and plates that touched it, and keep it away from other foods that won’t be cooked.

Some cheeses can stay unrefrigerated for about 6 hours. But this doesn’t apply to all cheeses. Harder cheeses (like parmesan and cheddar) can hang for multiple hours, high-moisture cheeses (like ricotta and mascarpone) will spoil pretty quickly.

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that perishable goods, fruits and vegetables, should also be considered part of the two-hour—one in the sun—rule. To keep them fresh for longer, don’t cut into your fruit until you’re ready to chow down.

While leafy greens will wilt after an hour or two, crunchier veggies tend to last a little longer. If you are using a dressing, a study has shown that vinegar and olive oil may have antimicrobial properties that protect against Salmonella and E.Coli. That doesn’t mean leave your salad in direct sunlight all day long, but a vinegar-based dressing will hold up better than a creamier variety.

If you are eating takeaway, use the basic two-hour rule, your gut (and nose!)—and when in doubt, throw it out. Don’t want to be wasteful? Pack a cooler and plan to chow down before you fall asleep in the sun.

Do you need to adapt better food habits when eating out in the sun? What are other ways

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