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While food-borne illnesses occur year round, traveling with food in spring and summer can pose an increased risk. So as you pack your backpack or cooler for a hike or trip to the beach, keep these tips in mind:
Always wash your hands with fresh water and soap before and after preparing food. If these aren’t available, rub hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol content between your palms until it’s dry.
Focus on non-perishable foods. Fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and dried fruit, nut butters, whole-grain crackers and pretzels, etc. are portable and will keep well.
Keep perishable foods cold. Meat, dairy, and egg products need to stay below 40° F. Use plenty of ice and/or freezer packs.
Pack your cooler as full as possible. This will keep foods at a more consistent temperature. Place the cooler (or your bag) out of direct sun.
Consider packing beverages in a separate cooler.You’re likely to reach in and out more frequently, leading to a quicker warm-up.
If you’ve prepared hot foods, make sure they stay above 140° F or are refrigerated promptly. Food left for more than two hours between 60–125° F may be unsafe to eat. In hot weather, refrigerate within one hour.
Use separate plates for raw and cooked meat, poultry, and seafood. The same is true for cutting boards, utensils, etc. Also, marinade that’s been in contact with raw foods should not be used as a sauce (unless it’s been cooked).
Lastly, do you need to wait to swim after eating?This adage is based on the myth that increased blood flow to the digestive tract after eating will inhibit your arms and legs from working properly. According to experts at Duke University, this is untrue.
It’s actually important to snack a bit before swimming and other physical activities, to keep your energy up. Afterward, drink plenty of water. Exercise and the sun can sap your body of necessary hydration.
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Washington State University, Food Safety Information for Consumers, Keep Foods at Safe Temperatures