Follow Us:

Blog: Every Bite Counts

Keep Foods Fresh and Safe During Summer Gatherings

Our Canadian summers are meant for gathering with friends and family for picnics and barbecues. Just remember, hot, sunny weather also means we need to take extra care to keep our food fresh and avoid spoilage. To help you enjoy outdoor dining, prevent food waste, and keep food safe, here are a few tips for your summer get-togethers.

Plan for the Heat: Plan to make only what you need and consider choosing foods that are less prone to spoilage in hot weather. Use this food portion calculator, from our UK friends, to help you plan how much you’ll need for each food type.


Lower-risk foods include:

  • Sandwiches and wraps made with cured meats, hard cheeses, mustard, and pickles
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, served with small portions of dip that can be easily replaced.
  • Nuts and trail mix
  • Fresh fruit or vegetable salsa
  • Crackers and chips, accompanied by small portions of cheese and dips that can be replaced.
  • Pickled foods, salads, or coleslaw dressed with vinaigrettes
  • Dry baked goods


High-risk foods include:

  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and cream-based dressings.
  • Meat and poultry
  • Seafood
  • Mayonnaise and egg-based dishes
  • Condiments and dips

Serve in Small Quantities: When dining outdoors, serve food in smaller portions that can be easily replenished from extras stored in the fridge. For example, divide high risk foods like dips, meats, cheeses or cream-based salads into two containers. Serve one, and keep the other in the fridge or in a cooler loaded with ice (tucked out of the sun) until needed.


Keep It Cool: Proper temperature control is crucial. Keep perishable items like meats, dairy products, and salads chilled by serving on trays lined with ice packs.


Time It Right: Avoid leaving perishable foods out in the heat for extended periods. Once you’ve served the food, limit the time it stays out – you may even want to set a timer. As a rule, do not leave food out for more than two hours. If the temperature rises above 32°C (90°F), reduce this time to one hour. Promptly refrigerate any leftovers.


Not sure what to make for your outdoor gathering? Shop your fridge and head to our recipe section for inspiration.