Food Safety While Boating, Camping and Hiking

Minnesota Department of Health Consumer Fact Sheet
Revised August, 2011

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General Rules for Outdoor Food Safety

  • Pack safely: use a cooler, or pack foods in the frozen state with a cold source when hiking or backpacking.
    • Keep raw foods separate from other foods.
    • Never bring meat or poultry products without a cold source to keep them safe.
  • Protect yourself and your family by washing your hands before and after handling food.

  • Bring liquid hand sanitizer, disposable wipes or biodegradable soap for hand and dishwashing.

  • Bring bottled or tap water for drinking.
    • Otherwise, boil water or use water purification tablets.
  • Leftover food is only safe if the cooler still has ice in it.
    • Otherwise, discard leftovers.
  • Do not leave trash in the wild or throw it off your boat.

Keep Everything Clean

  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food, and don’t use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat and poultry.
    • If you are going somewhere where running water is not available, bring water with you. Or pack liquid hand sanitizer.
  • Bacteria present on raw meat and poultry products can be easily spread to other foods by juices dripping from packages, hands, or utensils.

  • When transporting raw meat or poultry, double wrap or place the packages in plastic bags to prevent juices from the raw product from dripping on other foods.

Cook Thoroughly

  • Fresh and frozen raw meat, poultry and fish should be cooked hot enough to kill the bacteria, parasites and viruses that may be in the product.
  • Always use a meat thermometer to check temperatures. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
Poultry or fowl, whole or parts 165°F
Ground poultry or fowl 165°F
Ground beef, veal, pork, lamb or venison 160°F
Fresh beef, veal, pork, lamb, or venison 145°F
Fish and shellfish, all kinds 145°F
Eggs Until yolk and white are firm
Egg dishes 160°F

* Regulated facilities may cook to different temperatures because staff are trained in the use of time and temperature to reach safe standards.

Safe Drinking Water

It is not a good idea to depend on fresh water from a lake or stream for drinking, no matter how clean it appears.

  • Bring bottled or tap water for drinking.
    • Always start out with a full water bottle, and replenish your supply from tested public systems when possible.
  • The surest way to make water safe is to boil it.
    • Boiling will kill microorganisms.
    • First, bring water to a rolling boil, and then continue boiling for 1 minute.
    • Before heating, muddy water should be allowed to stand for a while to allow the silt to settle to the bottom.
    • Dip the clear water off the top and boil.
  • As an alternative to boiling water, you can also use water purification tablets and water filters.
    • The purification tablets kill most waterborne bacteria, viruses, and some (but not all) parasites.
    • Because some parasites – such as Cryptosporidium parvum, Giardia lamblia, and larger bacteria – are not killed by purification tablets, you must also use a water filter.
    • These water-filtering devices must be 1 micron absolute or smaller.
    • Over time purification tablets lose their potency, so keep your supply fresh.

Safe Fish-handling

  • Scale, gut, and clean fish as soon as they’re caught.
  • Live fish can be kept on stringers or in live wells, as long as they have enough water and enough room to move and breathe.
  • Wrap fish, both whole and cleaned, in water-tight plastic and store on ice.
  • Keep 3 to 4 inches of ice on the bottom of the cooler. Alternate layers of ice and fish.
  • Store cooler out of the sun and cover with a blanket.
  • Once home, eat fresh fish within 1 to 2 days or freeze them. For top quality, use frozen fish within 3 to 6 months.

Safe Foods to Bring Camping or Hiking

  • Peanut butter in plastic jars
  • Concentrated juice boxes
  • Canned tuna, ham, chicken, and beef
  • Dried noodles and soups
  • Beef jerky and other dried meats
  • Dehydrated foods
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Powdered milk and fruit drinks
  • Powdered mixes for biscuits or pancakes
  • Dried pasta
  • Bottled or tap water

Updated Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 02:14PM