Hiking, camping, and boating are good activities for active
people and families. However, if the food isn't handled
correctly, food-borne illness can be an unwelcome souvenir.
1. Choose foods that are light enough to carry in a backpack
and that can be transported safely. Keep foods either hot or
cold. Since it's difficult to keep foods hot without a heat
source, it's best to transport chilled foods. Refrigerate or
freeze the food overnight. What foods to bring? For a day
hike, just about anything will do as long as you can fit it
in your backpack and keep it cold -- sandwiches, fried
chicken, bread and cheese, and even salads -- or choose non-
2. Keep everything clean. Remember to bring disposable wipes
if you're taking a day trip. (Water is too heavy to bring
enough for cleaning dishes!)
3. It's not a good idea to depend on fresh water from a
lake or stream for drinking, no matter how clean it appears.
Some pathogens thrive in remote mountain lakes or streams
and there's no way to know what might have fallen into the
water upstream. Bring bottled or tap water for drinking.
Always start out with a full water bottle and replenish your
supply from tested public systems when possible. On long
trips you can find water in streams, lakes, and springs, but
be sure to purify any water from the wild, no matter how
clean it appears.
4. If you're backpacking for more than a day, the food
situation gets a little more complicated. You can still
bring cold foods for the first day, but you'll have to pack
shelf-stable items for the next day. Canned goods are safe,
but heavy, so plan your menu carefully. Advances in food
technology have produced relatively lightweight staples that
don'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; and
== powdered milk and fruit drinks.
5. If you're cooking meat or poultry on a portable stove or
over a fire, you'll need a way to determine when it's done
and safe to eat. Color is not a reliable indicator of
doneness, and it can be especially tricky to tell the color
of a food if you're cooking in a wooded area in the evening.
It's critical to use a food thermometer when cooking
hamburgers. Ground beef may be contaminated with E. coli, a
particularly dangerous strain of bacteria. Illnesses have
occurred even when ground beef patties were cooked until
there was no visible pink. The only way to insure that
ground beef patties are safely cooked is to use a food
thermometer, and cook the patty until it reaches 160¡ F. Be
sure to clean the thermometer between uses.
6. To keep foods cold, you'll need a cold source. A block of
ice keeps longer than ice cubes. Before leaving home, freeze
clean, empty milk cartons filled with water to make blocks
of ice, or use frozen gel-packs. Fill the cooler with cold
or frozen foods. Pack foods in reverse order. First foods
packed should be the last foods used. (There is one
exception: pack raw meat or poultry below ready-to-eat foods
to prevent raw meat or poultry juices from dripping on the
7. Camping supply stores sell biodegradable camping soap in
liquid and solid forms. But use it sparingly, and keep it
out of rivers, lakes, streams, and springs, as it will
pollute. If you use soap to clean your pots, wash the pots
at the campsite, not at the water's edge. Dump dirty water
on dry ground, well away from fresh water. Some wilderness
campers use baking soda to wash their utensils. Pack
disposable wipes for hands and quick cleanups.
8. If you're planning to fish, check with your fish and game
agency or state health department to see where you can fish
safely, 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, as
long as they have enough water and enough room to move and
== Wrap fish, both whole and cleaned, in water-tight
plastic 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 freeze
them. For top quality, use frozen fish within 3 to 6 months.
9. If using a cooler, leftover food is safe only if the
cooler still has ice in it. Otherwise discard leftover food.
10. Whether in the wild or on the high seas, protect
yourself and your family by washing your hands before and
after handling food.
Copyright (c) Terry Nicholls. All Rights Reserved.
Terry Nicholls is the author of the eBook "Food Safety:
Protecting Your Family From Food Poisoning".
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