Cooking Safely

Possibly one of the biggest challenges you will face in the great outdoors is cooking and keeping food safely. Food poisoning can be prevented by keeping cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Dangerous bacteria can grow at temperatures of 50-125 degrees F. To avoid the growth of such bacteria, wash hands and food preparation equipment thoroughly before preparing food and serve food as soon as possible after preparation. Be especially careful with meat, poultry, eggs and egg products, mayonnaise-based salads and cream or custard-filled desserts.

If foods are served cold, all ingredients should be cooled before combining them. Cold foods should be kept in a cooler until just before serving.

  • Pack foods to be used last in the bottom and foods used first on top in the cooler.  Remember, first in - last out.   
  • Food will stay most fresh in small, airtight containers.   
  • Keep an adequate supply of block or cubed ice, dry ice or reusable gel cold packs in the cooler.   
  • Keep the cooler in a shady spot.   
  • Pour boiling hot stews or drinks into sterilized thermos bottles to keep them hot and safe for hours.

The symptoms of food poisoning usually appear within 2-3 hours after eating and can worsen quickly. These are:

  • Nausea and vomiting   
  • Abdominal cramps   
  • Diarrhea   
  • Fever   
  • Weakness   
  • Headache   
  • Dehydration    

Mild cases of food poisoning may be treated by replacing the fluids lost in vomiting and diarrhea. However, if you are unable to keep liquids down, you need medical assistance. Treated victims usually recover fully within 24 hours. If left untreated, or if the victim is very young, very old, or in weakened conditions due to other illnesses, death can occur.

Return to the Safety Resource Center