Before the summer closes out, many will embark on one last getaway. While you’re packing the suntan lotion, bug spray and camping gear, don’t forget your fundamentals for food safety.
If you’re bringing perishables in your car, have a cooler large enough to keep sufficient ice or freezer packs.
- Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. Meat and poultry may be packed while they are still frozen. Use an appliance thermometer in your cooler to monitor that your food stays chilled at 40 F or below.
- Keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked foods or foods meant to be eaten raw, such as fruits.
- For long trips, take two coolers—one for the day’s immediate food needs, such as lunch, drinks or snacks, and the other for perishable foods to be used later.
After you find the perfect spot, place the cooler in a shady spot and cover with a blanket, tarp or poncho, preferably one that is light in color to reflect heat.
- Bring along bottled water or other canned or bottled drinks. Water in streams and rivers is untreated and not safe for drinking.
- Keep hands and utensils clean when preparing food. Use disposable moist towelettes that contain at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Think about buying shelf-stable food to ensure food safety.
For your beach trip, remember to bring only the essentials.
- Partially bury your cooler in the sand, cover it with blankets, and shade it with a beach umbrella.
- Bring disposable moist towelettes that contain at least 60 percent alcohol for hand cleaning.
- Don’t eat anything that has been sitting out in the sun for more than 2 hours (1 hour when the temperature is above 90 F).
For more questions about food safety, contact the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) to talk to a food safety expert or chat live at ask.usda.gov from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.