Camping Food Safety

Cooking food over a camp fire

Summertime is perfect for outdoor activities like camping, but we need to keep our food safe during those hot summer days. Follow these quick tips to keep your food safe at the campsite:

  • Use shelf-stable foods such as canned goods, nuts, whole or dried fruits, dehydrated foods, and uncooked pasta and brown rice.
  • If you are packing perishable foods, make sure that food remains cold to avoid spoilage. Food items such as raw meat, dairy, eggs, leafy greens, and cut melons must stay at 40°F or below to avoid bacteria growth. Plan ahead to keep these foods cold and use equipment such as coolers with ice or gel packs.
  • Bacteria can multiply rapidly at 40–140°F. This is known as the “Temperature Danger Zone.” Perishable foods should not be left out of refrigeration for more than 2 hours, and only 1 hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F.
  • If possible, use separate coolers for raw meat and ready-to-eat items. If they need to share a cooler, put the raw meat on the bottom and ready-to-eat foods above.
  • Bring drinkable water and biodegradable soap for proper hand- and dishwashing.
  • Bring appropriate cooking equipment and a thermometer to check final internal cooking temperatures.
  • Discard any food that is suspected of contamination or exceeding time and temperature requirements. Better safe than sorry!

For more information about food safety during outdoor recreation activities, visit the
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, www.fsis.usda.gov.

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