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10 Wide Open Tips For Food Safety In The Great Outdoors

Hiking, camping, and boating are good activities for activepeople and families. However, if the food isn't handledcorrectly, food-borne illness can be an unwelcome souvenir.

1. Choose foods that are light enough to carry in a backpackand that can be transported safely. Keep foods either hot orcold. Since it's difficult to keep foods hot without a heatsource, it's best to transport chilled foods. Refrigerate orfreeze the food overnight. What foods to bring? For a dayhike, just about anything will do as long as you can fit itin your backpack and keep it cold -- sandwiches, friedchicken, bread and cheese, and even salads -- or choose non-perishable foods.

2. Keep everything clean. Remember to bring disposable wipesif you're taking a day trip. (Water is too heavy to bringenough for cleaning dishes!)

3. It's not a good idea to depend on fresh water from alake or stream for drinking, no matter how clean it appears.Some pathogens thrive in remote mountain lakes or streamsand there's no way to know what might have fallen into thewater upstream. Bring bottled or tap water for drinking.Always start out with a full water bottle and replenish yoursupply from tested public systems when possible. On longtrips you can find water in streams, lakes, and springs, butbe sure to purify any water from the wild, no matter howclean it appears.

4. If you're backpacking for more than a day, the foodsituation gets a little more complicated. You can stillbring cold foods for the first day, but you'll have to packshelf-stable items for the next day. Canned goods are safe,but heavy, so plan your menu carefully. Advances in foodtechnology have produced relatively lightweight staples thatdon't need refrigeration or careful packaging. For example:

  • peanut butter in plastic jars
  • concentrated juice boxes
  • canned tuna, ham, chicken, and beef
  • dried noodles and soups
  • beef jerky and other dried meats
  • dehydrated foods
  • dried fruits and nuts
  • powdered milk and fruit drinks

5. If you're cooking meat or poultry on a portable stove orover a fire, you'll need a way to determine when it's doneand safe to eat. Color is not a reliable indicator ofdoneness, and it can be especially tricky to tell the colorof a food if you're cooking in a wooded area in the evening.It's critical to use a food thermometer when cookinghamburgers. Ground beef may be contaminated with E. coli, aparticularly dangerous strain of bacteria. Illnesses haveoccurred even when ground beef patties were cooked untilthere was no visible pink. The only way to insure thatground beef patties are safely cooked is to use a foodthermometer, and cook the patty until it reaches 160° F. Besure to clean the thermometer between uses.

6. To keep foods cold, you'll need a cold source. A block ofice keeps longer than ice cubes. Before leaving home, freezeclean, empty milk cartons filled with water to make blocksof ice, or use frozen gel-packs. Fill the cooler with coldor frozen foods. Pack foods in reverse order. First foodspacked should be the last foods used. (There is oneexception: pack raw meat or poultry below ready-to-eat foodsto prevent raw meat or poultry juices from dripping on theother foods.)

7. Camping supply stores sell biodegradable camping soap inliquid and solid forms. But use it sparingly, and keep itout of rivers, lakes, streams, and springs, as it willpollute. If you use soap to clean your pots, wash the potsat the campsite, not at the water's edge. Dump dirty wateron dry ground, well away from fresh water. Some wildernesscampers use baking soda to wash their utensils. Packdisposable wipes for hands and quick cleanups.

8. If you're planning to fish, check with your fish and gameagency or state health department to see where you can fishsafely, then follow these guidelines for Finfish:

  • Scale, gut, and clean fish as soon as they're caught
  • Live fish can be kept on stringers or in live wells, aslong as they have enough water and enough room to move andbreathe
  • Wrap fish, both whole and cleaned, in water-tightplastic and store on ice
  • Keep 3 to 4 inches of ice on the bottom of the cooler.Alternate layers of fish and ice
  • Store cooler out of the sun and cover with a blanket
  • Once home, eat fresh fish within 1 to 2 days or freezethem. For top quality, use frozen fish within 3 to 6 months

9. If using a cooler, leftover food is safe only if thecooler still has ice in it. Otherwise discard leftover food.

10. Whether in the wild or on the high seas, protectyourself and your family by washing your hands before andafter handling food.

Terry Nicholls
My Home-Based Business Advisor

Copyright © by Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.

About The Author

Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety: Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning". In addition, he writes from his own experiences in trying to start his own home-based business. To benefit from his success, visit My Home-Based Business Advisor - Helping YOUR Home Business Start and Succeed for free help for YOUR home business, including ideas, startup, and expansion advice.

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