As summer temperatures soar, many people flock to the beach to cool off and enjoy the sun. However, it’s important to be mindful of the foods you bring to the beach to avoid the risk of food poisoning. According to experts, here are five foods you should avoid taking to the beach:
- Cold cuts that require refrigeration: Deli meats like turkey, ham, chicken, roast beef, salami, bacon, or bologna need to be refrigerated until you’re ready to eat them. While they are often cured and processed to prevent spoilage, they can still contain bacteria that cause illness. If you can’t keep your deli meat sandwiches refrigerated, it’s best to skip them or choose ingredients that don’t require refrigeration.
- Fresh salads: Salads with raw produce, such as leafy greens, may not be the best choice for the beach. The heat can cause the salad to wilt and become soggy, while bacteria on the produce can multiply rapidly in warm temperatures. While washing fresh produce helps reduce bacteria, it doesn’t eliminate them completely. A large salad in an airtight container left in the heat can provide an ideal environment for pathogens to thrive.
- Anything mayo-based: Foods like mayo-based potato salad can be problematic at the beach. Although commercial mayonnaise contains acid that helps prevent bacterial growth, these dishes are often made in large batches and left out at room temperature during buffet-style servings. If these foods are left at unsafe temperatures for too long, it creates an opportunity for bacteria to grow not only in the mayonnaise but also in the ingredients mixed in, such as potatoes, boiled eggs, meat, poultry, or fish.
- Uncooked meats: While grilling is a popular beach activity, bringing raw meat to the beach can be risky. Raw meat can harbor various pathogens that can cause gastrointestinal illness. If you choose to bring raw meat, ensure it’s stored properly in a cooler below 40 degrees Fahrenheit until it’s ready to be cooked. Keep it sealed and separate from other foods that won’t be cooked to avoid cross-contamination.
- Precut fruits: Precut fruits, especially melons like papayas, peaches, honeydew, cantaloupe, and watermelon, are known to carry foodborne pathogens such as salmonella. When these fruits are cut, bacteria on the surface can be transferred to the flesh, leading to contamination. Sliced fruit also tends to warm up faster and attract insects. Instead of buying precut fruit, it’s safer to bring whole fruits and cut them up at the beach using clean hands, a clean knife, and a clean cutting board.
By being mindful of the foods you bring to the beach and following proper food safety guidelines, you can help ensure a safe and enjoyable day by the water.