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Planning Your Next Outdoor Adventure? Follow These Food Safety Tips.

There’s nothing like a camping trip, or even an invigorating daytime hike, to experience the wonders of nature. Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, getting outside is always a refreshing escape.

The perfect complement to any adventure, of course, is a delicious meal. However, it’s important to remember that food safety rules don’t change just because you’re taking a break from civilization. Experienced outdoor lovers know that safety is always the first priority—and foodborne illness can be contracted in the middle of the woods just as easily as at home.

That’s why we’re sharing some food safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). If you’re planning to enjoy healthy, satisfying chicken on your next outing, use the following guidelines to ensure safety for you and everyone who shares your campfire. Happy adventuring!

Remember that chicken is perishable

Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40°F and 140°F, aka the “danger zone.” If you’re packing perishable foods like chicken, keep them cold (below 40°F) by using a cooler or insulated container with cold sources like ice, gel packs or frozen water bottles.

Here’s the rule of thumb for your perishables: don’t leave them out of your cooler for more than 2 hours at 40°F. If it’s a really hot day and temps climb past 90°F, stick to 1 hour max.

Keep your hands clean

Whether you’re at home or outdoors, it is important to clean your hands when handling raw chicken. When you have access to running water, soap and towels, it’s easy to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw chicken—along with washing cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water before and after preparing each chicken item.

While stepping away from modern conveniences can be a breath of fresh air, you still need to clean your hands before preparing food while camping or hiking! Use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) or antibacterial wipes to clean your hands instead—and don’t reuse kitchen cookware until everything has been properly washed.

Use a food thermometer

Grilled chicken over the campfire is just as delicious as it sounds—as long as it’s prepared correctly! Pack a food thermometer with the rest of your gear, because it doesn’t take up much space and it’s very important for raw poultry to reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F before it can be served. Then, serve it up with some BBQ sauce, ranch or whatever your camping crew likes best!

Plan ahead

Have questions about how to best prepare food during hiking or camping adventures? Call or email the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline to get advice from a food safety expert: 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or [email protected].