Health Watch -- Safe Travel Snacks

Health Watch is a Public Service of the Office of News and Publications and is intended to provide general information only and should not replace the advice of a medical professional. You should contact your physician if you have questions about any of these topics.

When vacationing this summer, make sure you don't bring along any uninvited guests in your travel snacks.

One way to save money and avoid fast-food pitfalls when you travel is to pack your own nutritious travel snacks. But nutrition experts at UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas say you need to follow food safety precautions, so you don't invite the bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Be careful about storing perishable foods, such as dairy products, lunch meats and salads made with creamy dressings or mayonnaise. These foods should be kept cold, below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you plan to cook out when you travel, keep raw foods that are to be cooked separate from cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw. Be sure to cook meats thoroughly.

Bring along wet wipes so everyone can wash their hands before they eat or prepare food. Lona Sandon, a registered dietitian who teaches clinical nutrition at UT Southwestern, says about half of all food-borne illnesses could be prevented by just washing hands regularly when handling food.

Ms. Sandon says the best travel snacks are those that are non-perishable and come in transportable containers. Look for single-serving cereal boxes or fruit cups, trail mix or granola, peanut butter and cracker packages, fresh fruit and canned tuna lunch packs.


June 2004