Cooking at the Campsite: 5 Food Safety Tips

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Without a clean countertop, a dishwasher and a set of pots and pans, food safety can be difficult to maintain at the campsite. However, it's as important outdoors as it is inside your well-stocked kitchen, if not more.

When cold foods become warm or meat isn't fully cooked, everyone is at risk for food-borne illnesses. Keep these food safety tips in mind next time you cook at the campsite so you can enjoy a safe and delicious meal.

1. Wash Up First

A 2008 study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that the average hand has 150 species of bacteria, and that's when you're at home moving between school, work and home.

Whether you're scrambling up boulders or swimming at the campground beach, your hands are even more susceptible to germs and dirt on a camping trip, and a quick rinse with water won't clean them. The CDC suggests the following process:

Wet your hands with clean running water—not a water bucket, where bacteria can be living and growing.
Lather with soap, and rub the backs of your hands, under your nails and between your fingers for 20 seconds.
Rinse with clean, running water. Both cold and warm water will work, as long as it's clean.

2. Be Smart About Reusing Cookware

With only a few pieces of cookware at the campsite, you may need to re-use items as you prepare a meal. While this is a resourceful method in an outdoor kitchen, it can also be a food safety disaster. When you need to re-use an item, ask yourself these questions:

  • Was this used for raw meat? Always wash items that have come into contact with raw meat such as knives, cutting boards and sealable containers.
  • Am I cooking for people with allergies? Perhaps your nut-allergic camping partner can't have the Thai noodles, but they can eat the chicken that comes with it. Make sure you keep this in mind as you switch from one thing to another.

More: Must-Have Foods for Your Camping Trip