The first important step to take if you are concerned about food safety while camping is to plan your meals properly. Meal planning is especially important if you are planning on camping for more than a day. This step should be carried out before you leave your home. One of the easiest and safe items you can take is canned foods. As these foods have long shelf life, you can pack as many as you like and store them without the need for a cold source. Some of the most basic canned food items you can take include: canned tuna, jars of peanut butter, canned beef, concentrated juice bottles or boxes, nuts, and dried fruits.
Of course, you cannot live for days only on canned foods. You will need proper cooked meals to keep you going. For this, you need to make sure that you take with you all necessary cooking equipment for your camping trip. Things like a Titanium Camping Cooking Set and eco-friendly plates are some must haves. In addition, you should also get a food thermometer because it can be of great help in letting you determine if your food items, especially poultry or meat, are safe to eat.
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Imagine what it would be like to have 0 bacteria on your hands. But the reality is we all carry around thousands at a time and they're not going anywhere anytime soon! That means when you go outside or handle raw meat for example - those germs will just follow suit into other parts of our body which isn’t so great because these little bugs cause illness.
The issue with germs gets even bigger when you are outdoors camping. Whatever it is that you do, from swimming in the lake to collecting wood, your hands will accumulate dirty making it a breeding ground for germs throughout the day. One fact that you should understand is that these germs cannot be cleaned with just a rinse of your hands with water.
Related: A Backpacker's Guide to Personal Hygiene While Camping
To keep your hands clean during your camping trip, and thus prevent germs from reaching your food, take with you enough soap, water and hand sanitizer. Always wash your hands in clean running water and apply soap on all areas of your hands, including the part under your nails, and rinse with clean running water once again.
If you have your kids with you while camping, remember to instruct them to wash their hands not just before eating, but also before setting the table or helping with food preparation. Even if you are using a pair of gloves for preparing food, remember to wash them as well.
Related: Best Hand Sanitizers for Backpackers
3) Store and Cook Foods at the Right Temperature
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Bacteria easily and quickly multiply between the temperatures 40 F and 140 F, and this can happen easily when you are out camping under the sun. Therefore, you need to take the necessary precautions to make sure that all your cold foods and hot foods are kept at their respective temperatures. In addition to refrigerating foods that need to be kept cold, which can be done using a cooler or frozen gel packs, you should also make it a point to cook and reheat foods to a safe temperature. For instance, when it comes to perishable foods, keep in mind that they should not be left unrefrigerated for more than an hour if the temperature is close to or more than 90 F.
Related: How to Store Food for a Camping Trip
When it comes to cooking camp food, the internal temperatures to be maintained are as follows:
- When you cook burgers, whether it is ground pork, beef, veal or lamb, make sure that the patties reach an internal temperature of 160 F.
- When it comes to poultry, the internal temperature should be 165 F for it to be safe. The temperature should be the same for leftover food and hotdogs as well.
- If you plan on making a good Sunday roast with raw pork, beef, veal or lamb, make sure that the internal temperature is at least 145 F, and remember to let them rest for a few minutes before eating.
Related: 47 Camping Food Ideas That Require No Refrigeration
4) Avoid Cross-Contamination
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Cross-contamination is the process in which bacteria gets transferred from one item to another resulting in food-borne illnesses. The chances of cross-contamination are high while camping because of the obvious fact that you will have raw meat and other food items together. The juices dripping from raw poultry and meat, utensils, and even from your hands can easily contaminate other food items that you have.
You can avoid cross-contamination by washing your hands properly before handling food items, and by using different storage containers and cooking utensils for raw and cooked seafood, meat, poultry, and other food items. And to prevent juices from raw meat and poultry from dripping on to other foods, try wrapping them in layers when storing or transporting them.
5) Keep Drinking Water Safe
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You may have access to fresh water from a stream or lake near your campsite; but, drinking the water directly, even if it looks clean, is never safe and highly risky. It is always best to bring your own water for drinking. If camping in an established campground, you might have access to public water systems where you can refill your supply. If not, do the necessary to purify the water you collect water from the wild.
Using water filters and purification tablets is an easy way to purifying water. If you prefer a traditional approach, you can boil the water until it comes to a rolling boil and then continue boiling for a few minutes.
Related: Purifying the Water While Camping
6) Cleaning and Waste Disposal
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Proper cleaning and food waste disposal is also essential while camping. Make sure that there are no food crumbs left on the floor, cookers, or tables. Remember to clean your tables before and after use. If there is any unused food, pack and store it properly. After every meal, clean up food waste from the preparation area. The waste in your garbage bags or refuse containers should be emptied on a regular basis and the container must be kept clean at all times.
Related: 14 Tips For A Clean Campsite
No matter where you are, food safety is something you should never forget. Keep these tips in mind during your next camping adventure to prevent food poisoning or other food-borne illness and make sure that you have a great trip.
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