Food Safety for Summertime Activities
Outdoor activities are popular nationwide. The fresh air and exercise revives the spirit and the mind. Hiking, camping, boating, going to the beach, etc are good activities for active people and families. In many cases, these activities last all day and involve preparing at least one meal. If the food is not handled correctly, foodborne illness can be an unwelcome souvenir.
Here are some general rules to keep in mind for all outdoor activities.
Keep Hot Foods Hot and Cold Foods Cold
Whether you are in your kitchen or enjoying the great outdoors, it is important to remember that hot foods must be kept hot and cold foods must be kept cold. Meat and poultry products may contain bacteria that cause foodborne illness. They must be cooked to destroy the bacteria and held at temperatures that are either too hot or too cold for these bacteria to grow.
Most bacteria do not grow rapidly at temperatures below 40F or above 140F. The temperature range is known as the “Danger Zone”. Bacteria multiply rapidly at these temperatures and can reach dangerous levels after 2 hours.
If you are traveling with cold foods, bring a cooler with a cold source. If you are cooking, use a hot campfire or portable stove. It is difficult to keep foods hot without a heat source when traveling, so its best to cook foods before leaving home, cool them, and transport them cold.
Keep Everything Clean
Bacteria present on raw meat and poultry products can be easily spread to other foods by juices dripping from packages, hands, or utensils. This is called cross-contamination. When transporting raw meat and poultry, double wrap or place the packages in plastic bags to prevent the juices from the raw product from dripping on other foods. Always wash your hands before and after handling food and don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Soap and water are essential to cleanliness, so if you are going somewhere that will not have running water, bring it with you. Even disposable wipes will do.
General Guidelines for Outdoor Food Safety
- Pack safely – use a cooler if car camping or boating, or pack foods in the frozen state with a cold source if hiking or backpacking.
- Keep raw foods separate from other foods
- Never bring meat and poultry products without a cold source to keep them safe.
- Bring disposable wipes or biodegradable soap for hand and dishwashing
- Plan on carrying bottler water for drinking. Otherwise, boil water or use water purification tablets.
- Do not leave trash in the wild or throw it off your boat.
- If using a cooler, leftover food is safe only if the cooler still has ice in it. Otherwise, discard leftover food.
- Whether in the wild or on the high seas, protect yourself and your family by washing your hands before and after handling food.