Summary: During summer outdoor activities like hikes and campouts, the risk of food-borne illnesses increases. Warmer temperatures and improper food handling contribute to this risk. To ensure the safety of your meals and Scouts, careful menu planning and adherence to safe food handling practices are essential. Follow the three "C's" – Keep it COLD, keep it CLEAN, and COOK it thoroughly – to prevent foodborne illnesses.
General Information: Acute gastroenteritis is the most common infectious disease encountered during camping, presenting symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps hours to days after ingestion.
Keep it Cold:
- Bacteria grow slowly below 40°F or above 140°F; the range in between is the danger zone where bacteria multiply rapidly.
- Start with perishable foods chilled or frozen and pack them with ice, frozen gel packs, or frozen juice boxes.
Keep it Clean:
- Wash hands with soap and water or disposable wipes before handling food.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before cutting on a clean surface.
- Avoid cross-contamination; keep raw meat, poultry, and their juices separate from fresh or prepared foods.
- Wash hands properly after handling raw items.
- Use a clean water source to wash hands, dishes, and produce. If water is unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, but hand washing is preferred.
- Follow recommended water treatment protocols in the backcountry.
Cook it Thoroughly:
- Use a digital meat thermometer to ensure proper cooking temperatures.
- Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness; refer to safe minimum internal temperatures.
- Clean the thermometer between uses.
Teach Scouts about these practices to promote safe food handling during outdoor activities. Proper hygiene, temperature control, and thorough cooking contribute to a healthier and more enjoyable camping experience.