Traveling the open road is an exhilarating ride with the prospect of meeting new people, experiencing new cultures, eating things the size of your head and crashing into feral camels. The dangers of such a trip are carefully weighed up by each nomad wannabe and finances are carefully worked out to account for each of these potential situations, but there is one scenario most grey nomads are not considering but are finding themselves in at their peril. It has become such a problem that the government has issued a warning that all senior slow travelers and Grey Nomads need to take heed of.
The new peril for traveling round Australia for those who cook for themselves is a well-known fact of life – food poisoning. It’s very easy to overlook this killer in the excitement of a trip and concentrate on other aspects, but also to ignore it whilst traveling. So many Grey Nomands have the government has said, “Food safety is especially important to older people, who potentially have less immunity against infections, and in particular less digestive system capacity to destroy bacteria ingested in food,” said Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator Jan McLucas. “Many grey nomads from Southern Australia head north, and they are often unaware of the extra risk posed by the hotter and more humid climate when preparing and storing food.” It has become a real danger. Every year about 5.4 million Australians get food poisoning, and a staggering 120 people die as a result.
Life in a RV or camper van is a great life, but when you think about it, it’s also the perfect conditions for nasty food bacteria to grow. Often the kitchens are small so alternative methods of cooking or storing food are used, fridges may shut down when traveling, and add to that no running water you have salmonella and e-coli heaven and can see the bacteria packing their bags in their thousands and ready to move in.
So how can you avoid this potential trip ruiner? Here’s a few tips to help out.
Hand washing – Wash your hands frequently to prevent any cross contamination. While you’re at it, take the time and water to keep all your surfaces and utensils clean.
Preparing Food- keep cooked and raw food separate, and wash your preparing surfaces often and between foods. Store them in clean, separate containers.
Refrigeration – Keep your stored food and fridge below 5 deg C. Bacteria rapidly multiply as soon as the temperature goes over 5 deg C. Look for signs of discoloration or offensive smells. If in doubt – throw it out!
Reheating Food – Reheat food to piping hot – it must be steaming and bubbling for 5 mins to be sure any bacteria is killed. It needs to exceed 65 degs to be effective.
Water – If you have an unsealed water tank that has not been flushed through regularly it may breed harmful bacteria. Clean and treat before using. Do not assume any water found in the wilderness is safe. Use bottled water or suitable water treatment if in any doubt.
These all may seem like common sense, but by applying them to your travels may just save you from a lengthy hospital stay or ruining the trip of a life time. Whatever you do, crashing into camels and bathing in the outback streams should be the things you write home about. We want to keep you in touch, but we’d like to keep you in touch with the nicer memorable times of life – not the life threatening ones.