As the summer travel season begins, RV travelers start coming out in droves. Along with increased RV traveling comes increased outdoor eating. One of the pleasures of traveling in a recreational vehicle is the opportunity to venture outside and eat as a family at the picnic table or around the campfire. On such a great trip, the last thing your camping group needs is for someone, or everyone, to become ill due to consuming bacteria laden food that was mishandled or contaminated. This could make for a miserable trip, and could lead to severe health consequences.
A food item that has been improperly stored, transferred or mishandled can become detrimental for consumption once harmful bacteria begin to grow. This bacterium is not always detectable by simply looking at the food, smelling it or tasting it. It does, however, make itself quite evident within a few hours after consumption, starting with flu-like symptoms, and growing into what can be a very grave health crisis if it is not taken care of.
The type of bacteria that can cause food borne illness thrives in what is called the “Danger Zone” of food temperatures. Food that is kept for any length of time between 40˚F and 140˚F is subject to being invaded by harmful bacteria. It is in this zone that these bacteria grow extremely rapidly. Food will tend to enter this zone if it is transported without a way to keep it at the proper temperature. Also, if food is left out at a picnic in warmer weather, it will eventually enter this zone and become a potential hazard for humans who ingest it.
Pedata has come up with a list of food handling tips that may help you to avoid food poisoning complications while on your recreational vehicle adventure:
- Avoid preparing too much food for the group. The fewer leftovers you have, the less you have to worry about storing.
- Wash and sanitize all of the utensils, as well as the work area where you will be preparing the food. Make sure your hands are washed thoroughly.
- When preparing food in advance, allow plenty of time for it to properly chill. Use an insulated cooler with dry ice or ice packs to keep the temperature below 40 ºF.
- Any fast food items should be eaten within two hours of purchase. If this is not possible, be sure that it’s cooled and stored at the appropriate temperature until you are ready to heat it up and eat it.
- Avoid cross contamination of raw meat with prepared food. Make sure the meat is well wrapped and placed in a leak proof bag. To be doubly safe, don’t store other foods against it.
- If the weather is warm, keep the cooler in the air-conditioned part of the car with the passengers rather than letting it bake in the hot trunk.
- While the cooler is outdoors, make sure it stays in the shade and that the ice stays replenished as needed.
- The less you open the cooler, the colder it will stay, so keep your drinks in a separate cooler to avoid constant opening.
- Unless it is being served, don’t leave the food out on the picnic table. It should go back into the cooler if it is going to sit for a while.
- When grilling red meats, such as burgers and steaks, assure that they reach at least 160 ºF (medium doneness). Poultry should reach 165 ºF.
- Do not partially cook extra meat for heating up later. Whatever goes on the grill should be thoroughly cooked so that all bacteria are destroyed.
- As you take food from the grill, make sure to place it on a clean plate to avoid cross-contamination. Cooked items should not be placed on the same platter that the raw meat sat on.
At Pedata RV Center, we offer used motorhomes for sale, as well as used RVs, travel trailers, fifth wheels and campers. But we also offer any information that we feel may benefit our customers. We want to make sure that they end up with the right RV for their traveling needs, but we always try to look out for their safety as well. After all, our customers are part of our Pedata family … and family comes first.