It’s easy to understand why so many people enjoy camping. There’s the relaxation of chatting around the campfire, the challenge of hiking and the simple joy of admiring nature’s beauty. But not everyone camps in the wilderness and cooks over an open fire. For many people, camping takes place at summer youth camps or get-aways at public campgrounds, where there are large dining halls or concession-style service. In any of these situations, camp food safety is of the utmost importance for those who feed campers. The last thing you want to do is cause a foodborne illness that spoils the pleasure of camping.
Many camp operations are staffed by seasonal workers. This makes it vital to train them in proper safety procedures—everything from the basics of proper handwashing to food temperatures and sanitary preparation techniques. Here are a few areas to keep in mind:
Keeping hands clean can be a challenge in a camp setting, especially when you’re out in the wilderness. But it’s still just as important to have clean hands when preparing food at camp as it is anywhere else. Make sure campers—and anyone preparing or handling food—are washing their hands:
If you’re not camping with an electricity source, keeping cold foods cold can be difficult. It’s important to remember that cold foods must be kept at 41°F, or below, until the food is ready to be cooked or eaten.
The surfaces used to prepare food should be thoroughly cleaned before food is prepared for cooking or serving.
When cooking food, remember to use a thermometer to determine if the food has been fully cooked and is safe for eating. Never use the color of the cooked meat, poultry or fish to determine doneness—always use a food thermometer instead, especially if you are cooking over a fire, where it can be difficult to understand how long to cook the food.
There are many different types of meal service at camps with full kitchens. Two of the most common are buffet-style and family-style meal service. Both have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the camp’s dining room and the number of campers being served each day.
If you are camping somewhere without access to clean water, make sure to pack plenty of clean water for drinking and also for cleaning and cooking purposes. Never use water from rivers, lakes, creeks or streams for drinking, cooking or cleaning since it can contain bacteria and parasites invisible to the naked eye.
When feeding campers, there are many food-safety considerations to keep in mind that reduce the risk of foodborne illness. By following these recommendations, you will be sure campers have the best experience possible. For more information, including food safety logs/charts, posters and training, please visit the Food Safety Awareness page on Gordon Experience, under Resources.