Keeping Your Food Safe at the Beach

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It’s that wonderful time of year when lots of families are heading to the beach. After all, who doesn’t enjoy spending time near the ocean with family and friends? Traveling to the beach means you will probably be there for the day, which means you’ll want to carry food and drinks. So make sure to do whatever it takes to keep your family safe from foodborne illness.

Safe Food Handling tips for warmer weather include:

  • In hot weather (above 90 degrees F), food should never sit out for more than 1 hour.
  • Discard any food left out more than 2 hours (1 hour if temperatures are above 90 degrees F).

When heading to the beach for the day, take along only the amount of food that can be eaten to avoid having leftovers. If grilling, make sure local ordinances allow it. Coolers should be partially buried in the sand, covered with blankets and in the shade of a beach umbrella. Bring along moist towelettes for cleaning hands.

When packing your cooler, put the meat and other perishable items  in the bottom. Put the regularly used items (drinks, dressing, and snacks which you will be grabbing most regularly throughout the day) on top. As a matter of fact, experts suggest that you take two coolers, one for drinks and snacks and another for perishable items. The drink cooler will be opened repeatedly, which will make the temperature inside rise and ice will melt faster.

Make sure the cooler is pre-chilled the night before to keep frozen items from defrosting quickly. Place your cooler containing any perishables inside an air-conditioned car, not in the trunk or in the bed of a truck.

Also, make sure to pack the cooler filled with perishables completely full. A full cooler stays cool longer than one that is half empty. If you can’t fill it completely with food, try freezing water bottles and place them in with the food.

If you don’t have room for two coolers, you may want to  consider packing easy-to-transport, shelf-stable foods: single-serve boxes of cereal, trail mix, popcorn, single-serve applesauce, cans of tuna, peanut butter sandwiches, fresh fruit, carrots or celery.

For additional food safety tips, call Pasquotank Cooperative Extension, 338-3954.