Camping is a great way to explore the wilderness outdoors. And when you plan on camping for a few days, meal planning becomes important at the same time thinking about food safety while camping. As you set up your tent and pots and pans, don’t neglect your food safety routine just because you’re outdoors.
Just like you give importance to food safety when you cook at home, thinking about food safety while camping is equally important, if not more. But, without your go-to pots and pans, dishwasher, and other kitchen gadgets that you regularly use, maintaining food safety at the campsite can be quite challenging.The safety steps you take when cooking at home don’t change when you cook over a camp fire or grill.
Well, worry no more, because we have just the right food safety tips for camping, so the next time you can enjoy your camping meals without any concerns. Whether you are planning to spend a few hours in the outdoors or a few days, these food safety tips for camping will come in handy.
Plan Your Meals
The first important step to prepare for your camping feast is to plan your meals. 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 portable stove, pots and pans, etc. 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.
Keep Your Hands Clean
Our hands alone have thousands of species of bacteria during our regular days, moving from home to office and school. 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.
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.
Store and Cook Foods at the Right Temperature
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.
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 160oF.
- When it comes to poultries, the internal temperature should be 165oF 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 145oF, and remember to let them rest for a few minutes before eating.
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.
Keep Drinking Water Safe
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.
Cleaning and Waste Disposal
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.
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.