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Splash into Food Safety at the Pool this Summer

Posted by Meredith Carothers, Public Affairs Specialist, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA in Health and Safety
May 22, 2024
A boy getting a hot dog at the pool with a woman beside him smiling with a Summer Served Safe logo overlay

It’s officially pool season! Meals at the pool come in many forms – ordered from the snack bar, delivered from local restaurants, packed from home, or carried outside from the kitchen. Follow these food safety steps to keep splashing all summer long!

Stay in the Splash Zone and Avoid the Danger Zone

The Danger Zone is the temperature range where bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 and 140 F. To avoid the Danger Zone, cold foods must be kept at 40 F or below by placing them in the refrigerator, insulated coolers with cold sources, or nestled over ice. If the Danger Zone can’t be avoided, follow the 2-hour rule or 1-hour rule if above 90 F. After these timeframes, perishable foods are no longer safe and should be discarded.

Cool Pool Snacks

Perishable snacks like deli meats, cut fruit and vegetables, cheese, and yogurt need to follow the 2-hour and 1-hour rules, or be kept cold under 40 F. Non-perishable pool snacks like jerky, crackers, chips, popcorn, pretzels, candy, trail mix, and granola bars can withstand the summer heat and remain safe without being kept cold.

Pool Dinner

Pool meals are often an assortment of items. No matter what you’re eating, keep it safe:

  • If cooking food: always use a food thermometer to cook to a safe minimum internal temperature.
  • If packing food: pack into an insulated bag or cooler with enough cold sources to keep below 40 F or follow the 2-hour rule.
  • If having food delivered: consume within two hours. Chill any leftovers below 40 F or discard them if it’s been longer than two hours.

For more information about food safety, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email, or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday to reach a food safety specialist in English or Spanish.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety