The official beginning of summer is coming up, but the season is already here for many who are taking the opportunity to get outside and spend time in nature this Father’s Day weekend.
Warmer weather means many people will be packing up for camping trips. Camping is a great time to get away from the distractions of life and work and focus on family and friends. It’s also food poisoning waiting to happen.
Dry, salty, and sugary foods make for great and safe camping snacks.
Dehydrated foods are popular camping snacks not only because they’re light weight and compact, but also because the lack of moisture makes them practically immune to bacterial growth. Low-moisture foods like dried meats, nuts, fruits and cereals are great choices. Crackers are a better option than bread.
Salty: Salted meats and fish are a good source of protein, provided you have plenty of safe water to drink. Processed snacks like potato and corn chips are also relatively safe from bacterial growth. These foods can also help replace salt you may sweat out on the trail.
Sugary: Dried fruits, candy, and honey are great energy sources that will remain safe after exposure to heat.
Some tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Pack foods in tight, waterproof bags or containers. Keep them in an insulated cooler.
- Wash hands and surfaces often. Use hand sanitizer if water is not available.
- 25 percent to 40 percent of foodborne illness enters your body by way of your hands. Handwashing is important at home and even more so in the wild. Before you prepare a meal, heat water and wash your hands with biodegradable soap. Dry your hands with a towel that is only used on clean hands or use disposable towels.
- Carry hand sanitizer or wipes, and thoroughly clean your hands before trail and camping snacks and meals.
- Wash utensils, bowls, and cookware in water that has come to a boil and remains almost too hot to touch. Rinse in boiled water, and dry with a clean towel.
- Separate raw foods from pre-cooked foods.
- Carrying raw meat or poultry or high-moisture cooked meats — like deli meat — on camping or hiking trips is a recipe for illness. Even at home the possible presence of E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria is hard to deal with, but the same cross-contamination issues are multiplied when camping. If you’re car camping with a cooler filled with ice, take all the same precautions that you would in a home kitchen. Otherwise, leave the raw meats behind. If you take a meat sandwich for your first days’ lunch, carry it next to a water bottle filled with ice. Then go with peanut butter and honey or crackers with dry salami or cheese.
- Cook foods to proper temperatures, for example, ground beef should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees F.
- Chill foods promptly. Bacteria multiplies rapidly and can reach dangerous levels in one hour, in hot summer weather.
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