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Food Safety for the Outdoors

Cook food completely. Use a meat thermometer to determine when food is done and safe to eat.

Nothing can spoil an outdoor adventure faster than food-borne illness. When preparing for summer outings, follow these rules for food safety:


Plan your menu.

  • If your outdoor adventure lasts longer than a day, decide what you're going to eat and how you're going to cook it.
  • Lighten your load and carry only what you need. Pack small portions of dried pasta, rice, and baking mixes in plastic bags.
  • Bring cold foods for the first day and pack non-perishable items such as peanut butter and tuna for the second day.
  • Before hiking to a remote campsite, check with the park service to make sure campfires are allowed. If they're not, you'll need to pack a camp stove.
  • Carry bottled or tap water for drinking and cooking. Otherwise, boil water or use water purification tablets to purify water from natural sources.

Pack it up.

  • Pack foods in reverse order. The first foods packed should be the last foods used.
  • However, pack raw meat or poultry below ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep food cold.

  • Store your ice chest in the air-conditioned passenger section, not the trunk.
  • At the campsite or on the boat, insulate your cooler with a blanket or tarp.
  • If hiking, pack frozen gel packs or boxed drinks to keep your meal cold.
  • When the trip is over, discard leftover perishable food if the ice in your cooler has melted or the gel packs are no longer frozen.

Cook it completely.

  • Use a meat thermometer to determine when food is done and safe to eat.
  • Steaks should cook to 155 degrees F, and ground beef should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
  • Chicken breasts should be cooked to 170 degrees F; legs and thighs to 180 degrees F.
  • Pork should be cooked to 160 degrees F.

Keep it clean.

  • Bring disposable wipes to wash hands and dishes.
  • Double wrap raw meat or poultry with plastic bags to prevent juices from dripping on other foods.

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