Camping Food Safety and Eating Well in the Woods

A variety of years ago my wife, her brother and I went for some time, leisurely paddle. We were a fortnight into our paddle when one night I awoke sweating and trembling. I stumbled out of the tent, and crawled on my small hands and knees during the night. About thirty feet in the tent I wretched my guts out and collapsed to the detritus. For the next one day I was weak and dizzy, running cold and hot and can not travel. At first my friend in law thought I was as being a wuss – I could tell – until it hit him. After another day of being camp bound we decided there were to visit. We were still per week away from the our rendezvous. I soloed my boat, while my spouse paddled her brother in the boat. He spent a large amount of time lying on his back around the packs feeling miserable. I remember how awful I felt under the hot sun, feeling weak and that my paddling efforts were getting me nowhere. The rocking with the boat just aggravated my dizziness, and I constantly felt like I was likely to pitch overboard.

We were taking the Petawawa River, which has an amount of campsites in the process with “thunder boxes” at them. For the uninitiated a thunder box is much like an outhouse without having walls – a box with a hole inside top you could take a seat on. Between the 2 of us, that final leg of our trip was a paddle from one thunder box to another location, even as we went down the river.

Why am I hinting this? Because we have to discuss pathogens, toxins and other things that will make you ill while you are inside wilds.

I probably will can’t predict, but I suspect that my friend-in-law and I a bout of Giardiasis, commonly called Beaver Fever, that’s a result of the Giardia lamblia parasite. Up until that period I had trusted the lake from streams and lakes that were remote and untainted by human settlements and industry. Only once was I focused on the lake I drank in the back country. A few years ahead of the Petawawa incident we were traveling through Algonquin Park, and we crossed Grassy Bay. Grassy Bay is a massive bog that appears to go on forever. It was obviously a hot, sunny day, then when we’ve got to the end with the bog there was a beautiful, inviting stream with water tumbling over shining boulders, gushing down a hill. I was thirsty, so I took a long draft of water, and into concerning the third big swig I realized that something was wrong. The water was very warm, and yes it had a bizarre taste into it.

The portage followed the stream up a hill, then when we have got to the top of computer there was clearly the stinkiest, stagnant, beaver slew, full of reeking, gelatinous water, covered in scum, feeding the stream. Yum!

Fortunately I didn’t experience any ill affects that period, which only reinforced my cavalier attitude toward water and it is safety. If that didn’t cause me to feel sick then I has to be impervious. It wasn’t until following the Petawawa trip I got really serious about staying healthy, and reducing risks within the bush. Tainted water is risk that individuals can avoid which has a little knowledge and utilizing the right precautions.

Recently I was actually talking to an associate about camping food. He mentioned he and his awesome buddies took steaks with a canoe trip, and ate them about the fifth day. On this summer trip the next thunderstorm was warm and, as on many canoe trips, there is no cooler. The steaks were marinated in zip lock plastic bags. They started off frozen, but soon thawed.

They took a tremendous risk. Food poisoning is serious. Food poisoning can kill you. That isn’t the worst from it. Food poisoning can give you permanently debilitated. Food poisoning can ruin your joints and cripple you with arthritis, which is mild seeing that it can also paralyze or blind you. Food poisoning may also cause kidney failure, which results in failure of other organs. It also can cause stroke and heart failure. While these consequences are extremely rare, do you wish to take extreme risks? Aren’t you just begging for trouble should you? We need to comprehend the risks and ways to avoid them.


Pathogens will be the tiny micro-organisms that can cause disease. Pathogens generally cause you to ill by invading your system and reproducing inside. Others make you ill from your toxins they produce. The toxins are generally in tainted food or they are produced by the bacteria inside your system. The pathogens you need to be be worried about are bacteria, viruses and parasites. Cross contamination along with the danger of allergy symptoms is also things we need to be concerned with.


You may think that one could tell if a food has turned bad through the smell. However, pathogenic bacteria are odourless and tasteless. Bacteria grows in the event the conditions are right. It is astonishing how rapid it might reproduce. It divides every twenty minutes, so one becomes two, and two become four, and four become eight, and so forth. If you start with a penny, invest it and double that penny every day, could you retire at the end of the month? At the end of of thirty days you’ll have $5,368,709.12. Go ahead work it out. Bacteria is a lot like the exact same thing. It adds up really fast.

Bacteria wants a few what to grow. First, it has to take a certain temperature range. The danger zone is between 4AC and 60AC ( 40AF and 140AF ). Inside this temperature range bacteria will flourish. Second, it takes moisture. Third, the pH from the environment should be neutral, and lastly, bacteria needs time to reproduce. That was the issue with the steaks. They are a great source of protein, their pH is neutral, they may be moist, and 5 days in the backpack gives them time for pathogens to flourish. That is certainly enough time for it to breed food borne illness. In fact, a couple of hours at room temperature or above is enough time and energy to allow you to ill. Remember, the pathogens we are referring to listed here are both odorless and tasteless.

One in the dangers of bacteria is, some can exist in a very spore state. If it finds itself within an environment that isn’t conducive to reproduction, it may enter to the spore state. Spores are very hardy, and can survive two opposites. Viable 40 million year old spores have been located, meaning, inside right conditions they could become active living and reproducing bacteria again! If you ingest bacteria spores they are extremely dangerous.

Bacteria below 4AC doesn’t die, but stops reproducing. It will also stop reproducing in environments between 60AC and 74AC. Temperatures above 74AC will kill most pathogenic bacteria. That is the way you protect yourself from pathogenic bacteria in foods that potentially harbor them. Make sure your meal is brought up to a minimum of 75AC, and eat it soon after cooking.

The byproduct of bacteria reproduction can produce toxins, and never all toxins are destroyed by cooking. So cooking your meal thoroughly is not fool proof. You can not take food containing turned and purify it with heat. One toxin producing bacteria that campers have to be focused on is Bacillus cereus. It wants to reproduce in cooked rice. While rice is really a staple on long run canoe trips, and safe to bring along in their dry state, always eat it immediately after cooking.

Cross Contamination

One of the things you’ll need to be worried about within the wilderness is cross contamination. That fish that you caught and cleaned is not safe to eat until it really is cooked properly. The knife that you just used to clean the fish has pathogens in the raw fish about it. Make sure you clean that knife prior to you allow it to go encounter other food. That is usually how folks are infected by cross contamination, once they transfer pathogens in one food to a different with dirty utensils, or by placing food into a contaminated pot or dish.


Viruses are passed around the same way bacteria is. One major difference between airborne bacteria and viruses is, viruses can survive on inorganic surfaces for a long time. You only need one in one’s body for being ill. They invade a cell and turn that cell into an virus producing machine. The best approach to protect from viruses would be to keep things clean – the hands as well as your dishes.


Most parasites, such as Giardia lamblia, get in to you personally mainly with an unsafe water supply. Ever since my episode on the Petawawa, I have used a good water filter. I tried iodine pills, nonetheless they power down my digestive system knowning that taught me to be ill. Fortunately I twigged on the thing that was happening immediately. Bringing your water to some full rolling boil is the greatest strategy to purify it of parasites. Boiling it more isn’t helpful. Why loose water to evaporation and waste fuel?

It utilized to be thought that Giardia lamblia has not been present in remote areas, however it is known that it can be found everywhere, also it seems to be getting increasingly common.

To be very safe and secure, make sure that you just use clean water to wash dishes in as well as brushing your teeth. Parasites can obsess with your hands to have an extended period of time, so ensure you wash your hands, notably if you are planning to be handling food.


Iodine can be a poison. Some people can tolerate it greater than others. I can’t. If you think you might be gonna apply it, because filters are costly and boiling water is a logistical hassle, do it prior to going home. If you feel nauseated immediately after era of use or maybe your tongue gets discolored, stop using it. Even if you decide to apply it, be sure to utilize the right dose as you go along.

Make sure your fuel bottles and medications are well labeled, so nobody ingests something poisonous by mistake.

When I was young and thought myself to be impervious to everyone things, I poisoned myself on the camping trip by eating a sandwich immediately after I had slathered myself having an insect repellent full of DEET. I didn’t wash my hands before eating. That stuff is wicked.


I have heard sad, sad stories of youngsters dying of allergy symptoms on camping trips, because someone brought something the group has not been designed to have. Many people feel that when you have a hypersensitive reaction you bust out in a rash and itch a whole lot. I were built with a friend whose son was allergic to peanuts. If someone at his son’s school sat in a desk and ate a granola bar with peanuts inside it, and then his son merely sat as well desk a couple of days later, he would probably die within fifteen minutes. The school had extremely strict rules about peanuts, as there were a couple of children that could react that way.

Whenever I go out having a group I survey everyone for allergies and inform the group of the concerns. Parents, do not be shy. I took a big groups of babies along the French River once, even though I was doing my survey I kept on getting parents that might say, “Ya, well there is this little thing, but it really is OK. We don’t need to discuss it.” It drove me crazy. Talk about it! We need to know. We are likely to maintain a spot were there is certainly no medical help. If there is certainly the possible that you simply might have an allergic reaction or just about any reaction to something over a trip make sure the others learn how to allow you to.

Play It Safe

When happen to be on a long trip the safest food to take are freeze dried and dehydrated foods. If you have a dehydrator you almost certainly know already regarding the wonders of dehydrated food. I was amazed when I learned that I could dehydrate soup! Pour a puddle of soup on a Teflon sheet and run the dehydrator until all the liquid has disappeared. You are left having a crust on the sheet. Gently scrape that crust right into a zipper lock bag or in to a vacuum seal-able bag and seal it. You have soup which will last for months, providing it is kept dry. Remember, in case you remove one with the issues that pathogens need, to thrive, like moisture, you might be safe. If you’ll be able to dehydrate soup it is possible to dehydrate anything. OK, you definitely are unable to dehydrate, butter, water or beer, so there are a few limits.

If one does undertake dehydrating your individual foods, study the topic and do it properly. Again, temperatures need to get reached and maintained to kill off any pathogens just as you’d in the event you were cooking, so make sure you determine what you are doing.

There also a great many freeze dried and dehydrated foods available around the market in your supermarket and internet-based. Dehydrated soups and pasta sauces are great types of main stream dehydrated products. There are also specialty meals to the back country that are manufactured by various companies.

Certain things such as pouches of mustard, relish and ketchup, the sort you get at fast food restaurants, have a good long life-span too. That is because to remain homogenized to wipe out pathogens and hermetically sealed while these are still well inside the safe temperature zone. So in the event you plan a trip start eating lots of fast food and grab extra ketchup and mustard pouches. Did I just recommend eating fastfood!!? Actually there are places online and otherwise where you can get these items.

So whether it’s for only a week or possibly a month you plan being inside wilderness, make sure you care for yourself. While serious and debilitating food poisoning and food related reactions are rare, back country travel can push the limits of what is safe. You are also in an environment where it really is difficult to get help should you need it, so why tempt fate? Just still do it. It is so simple when considering down with it. Wash the hands. Avoid cross contamination, and pack the right foods inside first place.