July 15, 2024

Going Hiking or Camping? Keep Your Food Safe

FoodSafety.gov is offering tips on keeping your food safe if you are planning on hiking or camping this summer. If the food you bring isn’t handled and stored properly, it can make you sick.


Nonperishables such as trail mix, granola bars, and energy bars are a good choice because they can be stored without refrigeration. Chilled foods such as sandwiches or salads should be carried in a backpack with a cold source. Frozen gel packs and water bottles are good for keeping food safe. The water will thaw during the day, so you can drink it later.

Overnight camping trips are different. Perishable foods such as sandwiches, potato salads, pasta salads, and cooked poultry and luncheon meats should be kept in an ice cooler. Remember that coolers do not cool food down; they can only hold food at a safe temperature. That means leftovers should be discarded, not saved in the cooler.

Remember the four steps to food safety when hiking. Make sure you clean by packing clean paper towels, water, soap, and moist towelettes. Water and soap are best for washing hands and utensils, but the towelettes will work in a pinch.

When you are cooking food on the trail or at a campsite, use a food thermometer to check the temperature of burgers, steaks, chicken, fish, and foods containing eggs. Ground meats should be cooked to 160°F. All poultry should be cooked to 165°F. Whole cuts of pork, lamb, veal, fish, and beef should be cooked to 145°F. And eggs hold be cooked until the yolks are firm.

Make sure that you keep raw meats and eggs separate from uncooked foods and foods that are eaten raw. Use a clean plate when taking foods off a grill. Never put cooked meats or poultry on a plate that held uncooked meats or poultry because that will cross-contaminate the food.

Since bacteria grow in foods most quickly in the temperature range of 40°F to 140°F, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bacteria can double in number in 20 minutes in that temperature range. Throw away foods left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours. That time shrinks to 1 hour if the air temperature is above 90°F.

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