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Outdoor Eating Safety As Summer Winds Down – for Aug. 19, 2010

Be sure your food is safe as you enjoy some picnics, hiking adventures or camping during these later-summer days. Keeping your food safe in outdoor situations takes a little planning and care during the trip.

Remember some key rules for outdoor food safety. Keep everything clean. Since water isn’t available at every camping or picnic site, be sure to bring disposable wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer to clean your hands.

While cleaning your dishes is a good plan, take care not to pollute. Be sure to use soap sparingly and keep it out of lakes, rivers and other bodies of water. Dump the dirty water on dry ground away from fresh water.

If you are going backpacking, bring some lightweight, shelf-stable foods, such as peanut butter in plastic jars, small cans or shelf-stable packets of tuna, ham, chicken or beef, dried meats (such as beef jerky), dried fruits and nuts, and powdered milk or fruit drinks.

If you plan to enjoy camp cookouts, keep the weight of supplies low by bringing aluminum foil and/or lightweight pans. Check to see if the campsite allows you to build a fire or if you should bring a portable camp stove or grill.

Don’t forget to bring your food thermometer on picnics and camping trips. You may be cooking late in the evening, which makes it difficult to see the food. Colour is never a reliable indicator of doneness. Cook poultry to a minimum internal temperature of 73.8 C (165 F) and hamburgers to at least 71.1 C (160 F). If you are using a dial thermometer, be sure to insert it 2.0 to 2.5 inches into the food so the food is in contact with the sensing area. If you are cooking thin foods, insert the probe sideways into the food.

Keep cold foods cold. You have several choices for coolers, but some are more durable than others are. Foam chests have the advantage of being low in cost and lightweight, but they are not as durable as plastic chests.

– Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, L. R. D.,

is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition

specialist and associate professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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Julie Garden-Robinson is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the department of health, nutrition and exercise sciences.

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