Cami Wells: Taking summer food safety on the road | Advice
The summer season offers lots of opportunities for travel and outdoor fun with family and friends.
But these warm weather events also present opportunities for foodborne bacteria to thrive. As food heats up in summer temperatures, bacteria multiply rapidly. Here are some general rules for keeping food safe this summer.
Plan ahead. If you are traveling with perishable food, place it in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. When carrying drinks, consider packing them in a separate cooler so the food cooler is not opened frequently.
Have plenty of ice or frozen gel-packs on hand before starting to pack food. Take foods in the smallest quantity needed — pack only the amount of food you think you’ll use. Consider taking along non-perishable foods and snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated.
Pack safely. Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. Meat and poultry may be packed while it is still frozen; in that way it stays colder longer. Be sure to keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked foods, or foods meant to be eaten raw such as fruits.
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Also, a full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled.
When camping: Remember to keep the cooler in a shady spot. Keep it covered with a blanket or tarp, preferably one that is light in color to reflect heat. Keep hands and all utensils clean when preparing food. Use disposable moist towelettes to clean hands.
When boating: If boating on vacation, or out for the day, make sure the all-important cooler is along. Don’t let perishable food sit out while swimming or fishing. Remember, food sitting out for more than two hours is not safe. The time frame is reduced to just on hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F.
Scale, gut and clean fish as soon as they are caught. Wrap both whole and cleaned fish 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. Cook the fish in one to two days, or freeze. After cooking, eat within three to four days. Make sure raw fish stays separate from cooked foods.
When in the recreation vehicle: If a recreational vehicle has not been used for a while, check leftover canned food from last year. Canned foods which may have been exposed to freezing and thawing temperatures over the winter should be discarded.
Also, check the refrigerator and thoroughly clean it before using. Make sure the refrigerator, food preparation areas, and utensils in the recreational vehicle are thoroughly cleaned with hot soapy water.
Here is an easy dip that packs well and served with fresh summer vegetables.
- 2 cups cooked dried beans or 1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons chopped onion
- 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
Wash hands with soap and water. Clean onion by scrubbing with clean vegetable brush under running water; chop.
In a medium bowl, mash beans. Add chili powder, onion, and cheese. Mix well.
Serve warm with tortilla chips or serve cold with raw vegetables.
Store leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Nutrition information per serving: Calories 150, total fat 6g, saturated fat 3g, cholesterol 15mg, sodium 410mg, total carbohydrates 17g, fiber 5g, total sugars 1g protein 9g.
Cami Wells is an Extension Educator for Nebraska Extension in Hall County. Contact her at 308-385-5088 or at email@example.com. Visit the Hall County website at www.hall.unl.edu