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Keeping Hands Clean and Summer Camp Trip Foods Safe

Posted by Janice López-Muñoz, BS, MSIH, Public Affairs Specialist, USDA FSIS in Health and Safety
Jun 05, 2019
Three happy children eating apple and sandwiches in hammock
Ensure kids' summer lunches are packed safely. Don’t forget hand washing.

Does your child’s summer camp itinerary include outdoorsy trips that require them to bring snacks? How will you fulfill their taste buds while keeping perishable snacks safe? How will you make sure kids will clean their hands before eating? These trips will probably be in hot, sunny weather, and that can come with food safety risks. Let’s keep calm and be food safe this summer!

Summer Camp Grocery Shopping

It’s important to kick-off the shopping strategy by making a list of items that you know the kiddies will enjoy devouring, especially if they are active and expending a lot of energy. Some items to consider are fruits and veggies, yogurt, cheese sticks, deli meats, bread, crackers, nutritional bars, popcorn and tortilla wraps. These items make great basics for fun and delicious summer camp meals. Once back from the grocery store, USDA recommends that you place all perishable items in the refrigerator, for safe storage, within 2 hours (summer months are hot; if the outside temperature is over 90⁰F, perishables should be refrigerated within 1 hour).

The Kitchen is Open

The easiest way to keep germs out of your kitchen is to wash your hands; a recent USDA observational study revealed that consumers were not washing their hands sufficiently 97 percent of the time. Give yourself time to wash your hands for a full 20 seconds with soap and warm water -- that’s how long you should be washing to kill any germs that might be present. Once everything is clean, you are ready to start putting together easy and tasty meals for those exciting summer camp trips.

Shipped to Summer Camp

Proper storage is key to food safety when sending perishable meals to summer camp. Talk to the camp counselors to see if portable coolers, filled with ice, will be available on trips. Since perishable items should be kept safely cold (at 40°F or below) until it’s time to eat, pack items in an airtight container before placing them in the portable cooler. You can also pack perishable items in an insulated lunch bag with two cold sources (two ice packs or one frozen juice box or frozen bottle of water with one ice pack).

If you have a question about food safety for your summer activities, call 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, ET. Callers may also listen to food safety messages on various topics, recorded in English and Spanish, 24 hours a day. You can also email or chat via Ask Karen.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety