Don’t take bacteria camping

A little planning can go a long way when it comes to keeping bacteria out of your camping experience.

Camping season is here and we are ready to go. All the meal planning is done, the packing is complete and we are heading out soon. Even though many families or individuals camp in trailers/RV there are still precautions that need to be taken to keep food safe. Pack coolers, ice or ice packs, equipment to wash hands and separate equipment just for washing dishes and a thermometer.

One of the best ways to make sure your food is safe while camping is to have shelf stable items on the menu. That would be canned goods, including meats, beans, vegetables and peanut butter. Drinks can also be shelf stable items like juice boxes or instant prepackaged drink mix. As long as you have access to potable water that is labeled safe for drinking, prepackaged drink mixes are easy to store and take camping.

When we camp, we envision cooking our meal over the campfire or on a grill, this allows us to experience the full effects of camping. In order to do that, we have to plan ahead by making sure we have refrigeration or a cooler to keep perishable foods cold. When transporting meats, dairy products, eggs and prepared foods, it is important to keep them in a cooler packed with ice or ice packs designed to keep foods cold. If you are using a trailer with a refrigerator then clean the refrigerator and turn it on and set the dial to keep foods cold before packing food in the refrigerator. Don’t open coolers or refrigerators very often to help them remain cold without jeopardizing the foods inside. This will assure that your equipment is in working order before you are in the middle of the woods.

If cooking foods on the grill, make sure you have washed, rinsed and sanitized the grill before use. Michigan State University Extension recommends washing your hands prior to cooking or working with food. Even though you are camping, bacteria doesn’t take a break; they still grow in temperatures between 41 and 135 degrees Fahrenheit. To ensure you’re out of the “temperature danger zone” when cooking meats or poultry, use your thermometer just as you would at home. Make sure foods are cooked thoroughly and remain hot while serving. Don’t cook any more than will be eaten. It is harder to cool foods to keep them safe without melting the ice you brought to keep them cool. Plan and be prepared for the amount of days you will be camping or purchase more ice if needed.

Camping can be great fun family time. Do your part in keeping your family and friends healthy by following these food safety tips.

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