Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory

Camp Cooking - Be Wise, Be Safe

Whether you're taking off for the weekend or having family over for a cookout, you need to know how to safely handle and cook perishable meats, particularly hamburger.

"Today," said Dr. J. Glenn Morris, Jr., whose staff monitors foodborne illness outbreaks, "the dangerous bacteria E. coli 0157:H7 can make people very sick. This can happen if they eat undercooked meat or pick up contaminated meat juices from their hands or other food."

The consequences of an E. coli infection can be serious indeed. Recently, children have died and others have suffered kidney damage and other permanent medical problems. Below are some tips you should keep in mind for campground cooking:

Safe Food Handling Tips
Pack ground meat frozen from home or buy it fresh at the grocery. Transport it in a cooler with ice.

"Cooks" should wash hands with soap and water or disposable wipes before handling food. Wash hands and any cooking utensils you used again after meat is ready for cooking. Both cooks and helpers should keep their hands out of their mouths while handling raw meat. Why? If meat is contaminated, the hands can carry bacteria right into the mouth. Take cooked meat up on a clean platter, not the plate raw meat sat on. Use a clean fork or utensil too.

Everyone's hungry, is it done yet? Don't take chances serving undercooked meat. It takes very few E. coli 0157:H7 to cause illness.

So cook ground meat to 160°F or until there is no pink in the middle or in any juices. If it's gotten dark, use a flashlight to check that the meat is done.

Apples, raisins, marshmallows or other snacks can help campers wait until the meat is done.

Take anyone with serious stomach cramps, diarrhea or bloody diarrhea to the nearest doctor. If they ate a hamburger or other ground beef items, ask medical personnel to test for E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria.

Excerpted from Woodall's Monthly Regional RV/Camping Publications.