4 Food Safety Camping Tips | How to Keep Food Cold While Camping

November 11, 2015

Food safety tips are very important for a safe and healthy eating experience while camping. The last thing any of us wants to do while camping is cut our trip short due because you got sick. Being sick in the woods is definitely no picnic. However, a few easy to follow food safety tips will go a long way towards helping you avoid any food-borne illness.

1. Keep It Cool

Whenever you go camping with a cooler in tow, or plan to take perishable foods like meats and dairy products, cold is the name of the game. You want to keep those kinds of food at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Pathogens (the things that can make you sick from food) can start growing at any temperature above that.

In order to keep your cooler as cold as possible for as long as possible, there are several things you can do. Instead of a bag of ice cubes from the gas station, go for large containers filled with water and then frozen. Empty milk jugs are perfect for this. Not only will the ice take much longer to melt, but you will also have a supply of fresh water once it does succumb to the heat.

A group of five friends walks down a trail to setup for an afternoon outdoors.

2. Think Before You Pack

You will also want to pack your cooler efficiently so that you can get what you need with the lid open for the shortest amount of time. Plan your meals ahead and pack the cooler in reverse order so that the food you want to eat on day one is on top.

Four friends having rest at sunset picnic on sea beach

3. Get What You Pay For

Investing in a high-quality cooler will also go a long way towards keeping your food cold and safe to eat. The initial cost might make you balk at first, but a good cooler will make camping life a lot easier for you for years to come.

Couple enjoys cold drinks from a cooler on a mountaintop.

4. Food vs. Drinks

You will also want to store drinks in a separate cooler from your other food. Any ice cubes that you do use to supplement your cooler’s ice supply can easily become contaminated by hands reaching in for drinks or by unseen leaks in other food. I think it is safe to assume that no one wants an ice cube with dirt on it (or something even worse) floating in their drink.

Store ice you want to use in your beverages in a separate container as well, and use some sort of tongs or other grabbing tool to transfer ice from cooler to cup. (Scooping with your red solo cup is perfectly acceptable!)

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