Food Poisoning – Environmental Hazards
Out in the wilderness it can be more difficult to adhere to food safety principles. Sometimes a person will eat something that has been improperly stored or cross- contaminated, and the result can range from a mildly upset stomach to a life- threatening illness.
Carrying unrefrigerated meat for several hours while you travel allows harmful microorganisms in the meat to multiply. While cooking it to well-done can destroy many of those germs, returning the cooked meat to the surface that contains the drippings—and the germs from the raw meat—can then contaminate the cooked meat. This is just one example that most campers, novice and advanced alike, are guilty of. It can and often does lead to illness, but it can all be avoided by implementing the following tips:
• Wash your hands frequently when handling food, especially after handling raw meat. When soap is not available, potable water alone is better than nothing. Consider using wood ash as a disinfectant. It can easily be rinsed off.
• Insulated thermal containers and coolers keep food hot or cold for many hours. Pack coolers so that meat drippings do not contact other food. Keep coolers wrapped with towels or blankets to increase their ability to keep items cold or hot and keep them hidden from direct sunlight.
• Preservative-rich foods such as salt-cured meats, processed lunchmeats, and hot dogs are slow to spoil and retard the growth of harmful microorganisms.
• The best way to transport raw meat for long distances is to start out with it frozen solid. Ground meat will thaw faster and is more perishable than solid pieces and therefore should be the first item cooked. Cook meat thoroughly to the center (medium-well to well-done). Place cooked pieces on clean surfaces. Wash utensils after using on raw and cooked items, and eat the meat while it’s still hot.
• Charcoal is your friend—should you become ill after ingesting food, crush some charcoal into a fine powder, add it to water, and consume the mixture. It will aid in arresting microorganisms and bacteria in your digestive system, which will make you feel much better.