Whether on vacation or grilling out in your backyard, if you fail to handle foods properly, foodborne illness could result. Here are some tips for making your outdoor eating activity safer.
The danger zone in which bacteria can multiply most rapidly is between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. If food is left in this range, bacteria can actually reach dangerous levels in as little as two hours. This is why it is so important to keep perishable foods refrigerated until just before serving or cooking. Always cook raw meat and poultry thoroughly, using a thermometer ensure they are cooked to a proper internal temperature to help destroy bacteria.
If you are traveling with cold foods, bring a cooler with a cold source. Since it is difficult to keep foods hot when traveling, consider cooking foods before leaving home, cool them to less than 40 degrees F, and transport them cold. You can then reheat the cooked food until it reaches 165 degrees F.
Because bacteria can easily spread from one food to the next via dripping juices, hands, or utensils, think ahead to avoid cross contamination. For example, don't use the same platter or utensils for both raw and cooked meats. Wash thermometers and utensils in hot, soapy water between each use. Cutting boards should also be washed thoroughly between foods.
When purchasing or transporting raw meat, place them in plastic bags to help prevent juices from dripping on to other foods. Place in a separate cooler or bag if possible away from other foods.
Planning meals for a backpacking or camping trip can require a little more thought and preparation. When possible, considering packing dehydrated or canned foods. Considering cooking food in advance and freezing overnight. Pack with frozen gel-packs or use boxed drinks as a cold source.
If possible, bring bottled water for drinking. If you must drink water from a stream or other untreated source, it must be purified no matter how clean it appears. Boiling is a simple method to destroy most harmful organisms.