How do I keep food safe when I’m camping or hiking?

How do I keep food safe when I’m camping or hiking?


[music] Jason Bolton: Hello, I’m Jason Bolton. I’m
an Assistant Extension Professor for Food Safety and today we’ll talk about food safety
in the sense of camping and hiking in the state of Maine. Camping and hiking is definitely one of those
things that people in the state of Maine — or if you’re a visitor to the state of
Maine — we all love to do. But we want to make sure that we do it safely and avoid things
like food-borne illness which can really put a damper on the overall event. So today I’ll
be talking about some ways to avoid food-borne illness and some steps that you need to take
and precautions. The first rule with food safety is you want
to make sure that you keep things cool. If you’re talking about frozen foods you want
to make sure you keep it cool. The magic number is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep it below 40
degrees. Right here I just have an example of a typical cooler that people bring along
with them. One of the recommendations we have is you want to pack this with as many cold
things as possible, especially many frozen things. When you’re talking about food safety, bacteria,
mold or yeast, whether you’re talking about spoilage or pathogenic things that can make
you really sick, you have to make sure that magic number is 40 degrees or less and that
they don’t go above 40 degrees. If you go above 40 degrees, right around 40 degrees
to 140 degrees, we call that the danger zone. This is the zone where bacteria, mold and
yeast will grow the best. These are the things that will make you sick. When you hear about bacteria, mold and yeast
we’re talking about pathogenic bacteria, E-coli, Salmonella, things like that. One of the recommendations
that we have is not only using sealed cold packs that you can freeze in your freezer
and then bring along with you but also packed frozen foods. All your meats frozen, pack
a couple bottles of water frozen — so as they thaw you can use the water. Now when your bringing frozen meats it’s especially
important to make sure that those meats are completely sealed in a plastic bag. We usually
recommend actually using a couple plastic bags like Ziploc bags. The reason is you don’t
want any of those liquids as the meat thaws to drip on to your other foods. Don’t forget
that the meats are usually the area where you have the contamination problem when you’re
talking about pathogenic bacteria. So you want to make sure you seal those properly
so you don’t have any dripping on your other foods or cross-contamination. The other thing is when you prepare foods
and you have leftovers you want to make sure that you cool those foods, don’t leave them
out more than two hours. The magic number again is 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Put them in
your cooler, make sure your cooler is around 40 degrees. And the last tip for that is it
doesn’t hurt to bring a thermometer to keep in your cooler. If you’re looking at around
40 degrees you want to make sure it’s 40 degrees. Rule #2 is you want to make sure that you
clean everything properly. This starts with your hands. Make sure you bring soap to wash
your hands. It’s recommended that you use biodegradable soap so you don’t leave any
residues in the water that you’re using. So if you are going to a lake wash your hands
with clean water, that’s one of the biggest things. We also recommend bringing hand sanitizer.
This is a quick, easy way to sterilize your hands, or some sort of wipe. Those are the
biggest things. You can buy some of that biodegradable soap actually at stores like L.L. Bean. They
have it right in their outlet stores and their factory store. Rule #3 is that you want to make sure that
you cook it properly and this is especially in regards to meats. Meats are your inherent
danger problem, basically meaning those are the things that can contain pathogenic bacteria.
An example of this is chicken. Chicken can inherently contain pathogenic Salmonella.
This is the pathogenic bacteria that can cause all kinds of digestional issues — not so
much fun to have when you’re hiking or camping. So one of the things we recommend is make
sure you cook if thoroughly. There are some guidelines by the USDA that recommend certain
temperatures for cooking. I also wanted to talk about some foods that
you don’t have to refrigerate or keep frozen like dried beans, dried fruit or vegetables,
dried meats like beef jerky or turkey jerky. Also you have freeze-dried foods that actually
have a whole meal in a packet. All you have to do is add water. Pasta, things like that.
Those are all things that don’t need to be refrigerated and they’re great ideas. So all
you need to do is bring clean water. Now one of the things you want to remember
is, “Do I have enough clean drinking water?” You never want to rely on lakes, ponds, streams,
things of that nature as your clean drinking water sources. So here are some steps that
you can use, or procedures you can use, to make sure your water is clean. First of all
is you can boil your water. If you bring your water to a roaring boil there are no bacteria,
mold or yeast or parasites that can survive in the water, so it’s clean. With that you want to make sure though you
filter out any particulates. Things like rocks, sediments can be in the water. It’s kind of
tough to drink that. The second step, or procedure, is Iodine tablets or purification tablets.
These tablets are great. They do make the water have a strange aftertaste or a strange
taste in general and they don’t kill all the parasites. There are certain parasites that
can survive. They do kill most bacteria, mold and yeast. The last step is a small water purification
pump like this. You stick this end in the water source, it automatically filters out
all the particulate and it gets rid of all bacteria, mold and yeast. So your drinking
water is safe. And, like I said earlier, if you want to pack frozen foods it’s a great
idea to pack a big bottle of frozen water and as it thaws you can use that water for
drinking. [music]

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