Remember food safety when packing for vacation

Food safety is an important detail to remember when packing for vacation.

Taking a trip on the road or by boat to that favorite vacation spot often involves bringing along our favorite foods. Here are some food safety tips to follow when transporting food.

Plan ahead
When traveling with perishable food, place foods in a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Pack drinks in a separate cooler so the food cooler is not opened frequently. Have plenty of ice or frozen gel-packs on hand before starting to pack food. If you take perishable foods along (for example: meat, poultry, eggs and salads) for eating on the road or to cook at your vacation spot, plan to keep everything on ice in your cooler.

Pack safely
Pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into the cooler. Meat and poultry may be packed while they are still frozen; that way they stay cold for longer. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled. Be sure to keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked foods or foods meant to be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables or foods that require no cooking.

As the weather heats up, there are special considerations: In weather above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, food should never sit out for more than one hour. Always discard any food left out more than two hours (one hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.) While enjoying your picnic and water fun, remember to keep coolers in the shade and out of direct sun.

Michigan State University Extension recommends using a food thermometer when grilling meats and poultry to give you the accurate internal temperature needed for these foods. Pack a food thermometer in the picnic basket and with sanitizing wipes. Cook all poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a food thermometer. Cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, as measured with a food thermometer. Salmonella and E- Coli microorganisms can be killed with proper monitoring of temperatures. Pack water for cooking and cleaning utensils. Remember soap and paper towels, too.

Keeping you, your family, friends and your food safe this summer whether on the road or at home can be easy if you follow these general guidelines.

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