Getting ready to go camping?
Beth Waitrovich, MA, RD
The first camping trip of the year is usually the most work. Restocking the camper/RV after taking everything out last fall makes for extra work. There are many things to do; including cleaning, shopping, packing, making beds, etc. Keep food safety in mind as you work down your to do list.
It is very important to sanitize your water system before using it. If the water system was winterized with RV antifreeze, rinse the system first. Follow the instructions in your unit’s manual for proper sanitizing.
Check your refrigerator/freezer to make sure it is working properly. Use a refrigerator thermometer in the fridge and in the freezer. The temperature in the refrigerator should be 41 degrees F. or below for safe storage of perishable foods.
For campers without electric or gas refrigeration, use plenty of ice in coolers. Pack raw meat, poultry and fish in a separate cooler from produce. Restock your ice every day to keep foods cold. Keep coolers out of the sun. Bring along bottled water for drinking. It is not safe to drink water out of streams, rivers, and lakes unless you have a water purification tablets or equipment.
Do not use any canned foods that may have been left in your camper over the winter. Canned goods that have been frozen, should always be discarded. Clean surfaces in the food preparation area, sinks, and refrigerator. Clean your grill if it was stored away without cleaning it first.
Part of the enjoyment of camping is the tasty food prepared outside on the wood fire or on the grill. Use a food thermometer to make sure meat, poultry and fish is cooked to the correct minimum temperature. Ground meat should be cooked to 160 degrees F. Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F. and steaks, ribs or chops should be at least 145 degrees F.
Remember to use a clean plate when taking cooked foods off the grill or fire. Never reuse the plate/container that held the raw meat, fish or poultry to hold the cooked foods unless you washed it first with hot soapy water and rinsed.
A little time and effort before your camping trip can make sure you have a fun and food safe adventure.
For more information, contact Michigan State University Extension in Dickinson County at 527 Stephenson Street, Norway, or call 906-774-0363. Contact information for other MSU Extension offices can be found at msue.anr.msu.edu.