10 Fast-Spoiling Foods to Avoid
Americans waste a lot of food. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that American households discard a whopping $165 billion worth each year -- an average of $2,200 per household. Many could easily reduce that amount by actually eating, rather than throwing out, what they buy. In part, that means eating food before it spoils and avoiding foods that turn bad quickly, including for occasions such as summer potlucks.
The foods listed here are highly perishable and require proper handling when consumed outdoors in warm weather. To avoid food poisoning, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that perishable items be discarded if they remain at room temperature for two hours or more. Think twice about bringing these foods to a picnic or cookout -- and if you do, transport and store them in a cooler with plenty of ice or frozen gel packs, and be sure to keep the cooler closed to keep the contents cold and safely edible.
Mayonnaise, made of oil and egg yolks with a little added vinegar or other acid, is known for souring quickly. While most commercially produced mayonnaise contains preservatives that hinder the growth of spoilage-inducing bacteria, the additives don't halt bacteria growth completely. Any side dish made with mayonnaise, including potato salad, egg salad, and coleslaw, should be stored cold until eaten. At a picnic or outdoor barbecue, keep it out of direct sunlight, preferably in a cooler, or stored on top of a tray of ice. Discard after two hours if not kept chilled.
At first thought, a "finger food" such as fried chicken might seem the perfect picnic cuisine (provided there are plenty of napkins for cleaning greasy fingers). But think again. Even properly cooked chicken can host a multitude of microbes after only a short time in warm weather. If you must bring chicken to a picnic, serve it while it's still hot from cooking or chill it completely in the refrigerator and carry it in a cooler filled with ice.