June 17, 2024

Labor Day Weekend Food Safety Travel Tips From the USDA

Labor Day weekend food safety travel tips come from Jesus Garcia, Public Affairs Specialist with the Food Safety Education Staff with the USDA. While many people stay at home during this long holiday weekend, others travel, especially to campsites and to go on picnics. And food safety is even more critical when you are away from home.

Labor Day Weekend Food Safety Travel Tips From the USDA

First pack perishable foods into your cooler directly from the fridge or freezer. You can pack meat and poultry products while they are still frozen.

Put an appliance thermometer in your cooler to make sure that the food stays safe and cold at 40°F or below. The danger zone, when bacteria counts can double in food every 20 minutes, is from 40°F to 140°F.

Keep raw meat and poultry away from cooked foods and produce that is eaten raw, in the cooler and while you are preparing foods. Cross-contamination can happen easily, and that’s how many people get food poisoning.

For long trips, take two or more coolers. Use one for that day’s needs, and the other for perishable foods that will be used later. And don’t open the cooler holding the reserved perishable foods, to keep the temperature inside that cooler as low as possible.

When you arrive at your campsite or picnic area, do not drink water from streams and rivers. It’s not safe for drinking. Only drink bottled water or other canned and bottled drinks.

If soap and clean water aren’t available, use disposable moist towelettes or hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands before preparing food and before eating. Also use them after using the bathroom.

When packing for your trip, consider buying shelf-stable foods, such as peanut butter, bread, canned foods, and other foods that do not require refrigeration for the safest options.

If you are going to the beach, partially bury your cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets, and shade it with a beach umbrella to keep it out of the sun. Make sure sand doesn’t get into the cooler.

Don’t eat food that has been sitting out for more than two hours. This time drops to one hour when the ambient air temperature is above 90°F.

And always follow the four food safety steps of clean, separate, cook, and chill. Clean hands, wash produce before preparing, and clean utensils and plates before and after cooking and eating. Separate raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs from foods that are eaten uncooked. Always cook foods to safe final internal temperatures and check those temps with a food thermometer. And chill foods promptly after cooking and eating.

Use these Labor Day weekend food safety tips to stay healthy.

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