How to Pack a Cooler During the Dog Days of Summer
By: Elizabeth Smith
June 01, 2015
Choosing the right kind of hot dogs can make or break your picnic. With four ingredients in Applegate Natural Uncured Beef Hot Dogs, you can have confidence in your choice. Check out all our other options, including organic offerings here.
We make them awesome; you keep them safe.
Food safety can be a complex topic but it’s important to keep it in mind as temperatures rise – especially since the bacteria that cause foodborne illnesses love warm environments.
Don’t fret though! Just remember this important guideline from the USDA: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
Here are a few easy tips to help you do just that and keep your BBQs and picnics fun and safe all summer long.
1. Consider these items during your summer hot dog planning
• Cooler - the temperature keeper of the picnic. It will help keep your food about as cool as the fridge.
• Ice Packs help keep cold food cold. Make sure you have plenty of ice or frozen gel packs in your cooler. However, once ice melts or gel packs warm up, it’s best not to keep leftover food with them as they’re not cooling anything down.
2. Properly separate picnic ingredients during transport
• Raw meat: If it’s being stored in the cooler with meats that are already fully cooked (like hot dogs), make sure it is sealed tightly in a Ziploc bag or other container. Limiting cross contamination is important to prevent food borne illness.
• Keep cheese or any other dairy in the cooler with the meat.
• Condiments like ketchup and mustard, if opened, are better in the cooler as well.
• Salads: Green or mayo based, keep them cold.
• Buns should be kept out of the cooler. They’ll take up room and don’t need to be chilled. Let the ice packs work on something that needs to stay cold.
• Drinks should be kept in a separate cooler, away from the meats, if possible. Otherwise frequent opening and closing of the lid to get a beverage can raise the temperature of the cooler, and the food inside it, rapidly.
3. Cook hot dogs all the way through
Fire it up! Charcoal, wood, gas, matches - use whatever you need to start a flame so you can cook your food to perfection. Make sure it gets warm enough! Cook hot dogs thoroughly to about 160 degrees Fahrenheit, but always check the packaging recommendation. If you’re not traveling with a thermometer, just confirm that it’s hot all the way through.
Once the hot dogs are cooked, eat them right away.
4. Keep hands clean
Cross contamination can occur easily, especially if you’re outside away from a sink with soap and water. Hand sanitizer works great on the road.
Have fun this summer and stay (food) safe!
Elizabeth Smith is a Research and Development Manager at Applegate. She has spent five years in the food industry learning all about food science and food safety. She received both her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Food Science from Drexel University. Liz doesn’t just spread her wisdom about food safety at the office; in her spare time, she enjoys charging her family for food safety consultation services during Thanksgiving when they need to know if the turkey is cooked. A (slow) running enthusiast and sometimes yogi, Liz is also a wannabe chef, cooking meals for family and friends with her husband. They live with their two cats in Ardmore, PA.