Handle food safely when traveling

Traveling and eating go hand in hand. Keep your food safe while away from home by using some simple steps: keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.

Using simple, common sense food-safety precautions can prevent foodborne illness during your vacation. Food is an important part of any travels; but it can also cause severe illness if not handled properly.

Perishable foods are those that can easily spoil and need refrigeration. One way to keep meat and poultry colder longer is to pack it directly from your refrigerator or freezer into a cooler. There are several types of coolers available; foam chests are lightweight and low-cost while plastic, fiberglass or steel coolers are durable and have excellent cold retention, but once filled can be very heavy. Blocks of ice keep longer than ice cubes. Another alternative is to freeze clean, empty milk cartons filled with water or use frozen gel-packs.

Keep raw meats and poultry separate from cooked foods or foods that are meant to be eaten raw. Wrap foods carefully to avoid cross contamination. Fill cooler as full as possible to keep the cold temperature longer. Consider keeping a separate cooler for drinks, as this is usually opened more frequently. When camping, keep the cooler in a shady area or covered with a blanket or tarp.

When preparing food, keep your hands and utensils clean. Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Do not use the same dishes and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry. Soap and water are important; bring it with you if you do not have it.

When planning day trips, pack only the amount of food that can be eaten to avoid leftovers. Do not eat anything that has been sitting out for more than two hours in the sun or one hour in temperatures over 90˚F. Dispose of any leftover foods that have not remained at 40˚F.

There are many foods that do not need refrigeration:

  • Peanut butter in plastic jars
  • Concentrated juice boxes
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Granola Bars
  • Powered milk and fruit drinks
  • Whole fresh fruits
  • Baked goods

Traveling is fun and packing your lunch can save your family money. By following a main food safety tip like keeping cold foods cold and hot food hot, you can avoid the possibility of food-borne illness.

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