Camp Cooking Safety

While you’re packing the sunscreen, bug spray and camping gear, don’t forget basic food safety. Here are some camp-specific tips.

Plan Ahead!

To avoid leftovers, plan menus and portion sizes ahead of time. Plan meals that require one pot to lighten your load. If possible, bring shelf stable foods.

Keep Cold Foods Cold!

  • Pack foods directly from the refrigerator into an insulated cooler in reverse-use order (first food packed is last to be used). A block of ice keeps longer than ice cubes or use clean, empty milk cartons to freeze blocks of ice.
  • Keep coolers in the shade with a blanket or tarp on top.

Keep it Clean!

  • If you don’t have access to running water, use a water bottle, some soap, and paper towels. Or consider using moist disposable towelettes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Seal raw meat or poultry to prevent juices from dripping on the other foods. Always pack raw meat at the bottom of your cooler and keep away from ready-to-eat foods.
  • To prevent cross-contamination, use a spatula or clean tongs for removing meat or poultry from the grill. Place on a clean plate.

Keep Hot Foods Hot!

  • Remember to pack a food thermometer to check the doneness of meat. Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the food, away from bone, fat or gristle. Ground beef should reach an internal temperature of 160 F; whole poultry, poultry breasts and ground poultry, 165 F. Beef, pork, veal, lamb steaks, roast and chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 F*.
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than 2 hours (or 1 hour when the temperature is above 90°F)
  • Discarded leftover food should be burned, not dumped.

Cooking with Campfire

  • Read the Campfires article from the National Park Service for tips on starting and regulating fires.
  • Helpful Equipment: Aluminum foil, cast iron skillets, Dutch ovens, grill grates and tripods to hold up skillets and pans above the heat.
  • For safety, remember equipment like tongs and hot pads, and use probe thermometers to check food temperatures. Keep water nearby to put out fires that get too big.

*Packing a Cooler adapted from:

*Camp Cooking Safety adapted from:

*Cooking with Fire adapted from:

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