11 Food Safety Tips to Pack for Spring Break
Whether you spend spring break partying in a city, exploring a different country or getting some R&R at home, don’t let food safety take a vacation. “Spring break is the perfect time to make memories with family and friends and Stop Foodborne Illness wants to make sure it’s the FUN MEMORIES that fill up your social media,” says Stop Foodborne Illness CEO, Deirdre Schlunegger.
Following basic food safety standards, like washing hands, and adding some travel-specific practices is the best way to ensure food-borne illness won’t interrupt a fun getaway. Check out the Stop Food-borne Illness top tips for food safety during spring break.
- There’s always the possibility that food has not been held at proper temperatures – cold foods (salads, cold cuts, dressings) should be cold and hot foods (soups, meats, fish) should be hot. Any food that’s served at room temperature, and isn’t supposed to be, is within the temperature “danger zone” where bacteria can thrive.
- If you’ve gotten away to a warmer climate, remember the one-hour rule. Any perishable foods that have been sitting out beyond one hour when the temperature is higher than 90° F, is not safe to consume. (It’s 2 hours, if the temperature is below 90° F.)
- Another source of contamination is when food is mishandled by people with unclean hands. If you see something, say something. Don’t assume anything. And, of course, after a day’s activities, be sure to wash your own hands before eating.
- Fresh fruit and vegetables from the buffet can be a great poolside snack but don’t forget to wash and peel the tasty treat before eating. If you’re in an area with unsafe water, wash the produce with bottled or filtered water.
- Street food is a great way to experience local culture, but often, stalls don’t have the same hygiene standards as restaurants that cater to tourists. Stop Foodborne Illness recommends being aware of this difference and making wise choices when enjoying dishes from local restaurants or street stands.
- Avoid establishments where the food handlers don’t practice good hygiene, such as tying back their hair, wearing protective gloves and having clean hands and fingernails.
- Be selective when choosing foods. Avoid raw milk and raw milk cheeses, and other raw foods—including undercooked meat and seafood, and uncooked vegetables —as well as foods that require a lot of handling before serving.
- Be extra cautious when visiting a remote destination. Turn up the food safety dial a notch; even though you may enjoy certain foods and beverages at home—like rare meat or runny eggs—it’s better to avoid questionable foods while in a different country. (Being sick in a language you don’t know can really complicate matters.)
- Sanitize tray tables, seat armrests and door handles with an 60% alcohol-based wipe. These frequently touched areas are generally made of plastic, a nonporous material that allows germs to live on longer, and have a higher risk of spreading foodborne illness.
- Keep food out of the danger zone . Make sure cold food stays cold—at or below 40°F—by packing it in coolers with frozen gel packs or ice. Stop Foodborne Illness suggests packing beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another since you are likely to grab beverages most often while on the road. Since hot food needs to stay hot—at or above 140°F, Stop Foodborne Illness suggests passing on hot foods and opting instead for peanuts, and other nuts (including nut butters), jelly, crackers, chips, dried fruit, baked goods such as cookies or muffins, granola bars, popcorn, and whole fresh fruits like bananas, apples, and oranges.
- Rinse all fresh produce under running tap water (and patting it dry) before packing it in a cooler, including produce with peel-away skins or rinds. Follow this checklist to make sure coolers are packed properly.