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Food Safety for the Summer


While it is always a good idea to get be familiar with food safety guidelines, summer is an especially good time to get a refresher on such rules. Temperatures outside rise and family travel picks up, which means food transport and storage will take a little more consideration.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick from foodborne illnesses each year, so pack your beach or road trip snacks cautiously.
Some key points to note include not leaving food sitting out for more than two hours, or one hour after temperatures reach 90?F. If you are packing a cooler, be sure to clean it out first with soap and warm water to minimize bacteria growth. In general, you want cold food to remain cold (<40?F) so be sure to include ice on your packing list. Some public beaches, parks or rest areas may lack fresh water facilities, so ensuring you have hand sanitizer is also a good idea. Basic Food Safety Standards can be found here.

Hydration 101

There are many ways to stay cool this summer, but there is no adequate substitution to staying hydrated. Children need between seven and fourteen cups of water per day depending upon age and activity level.

Erring on the side of more during the summer time heat can be a real advantage to ensuring adequate hydration and preventing dehydration symptoms such as headache, fatigue, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. Hydration specifics are summarized here by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Some foods, such as watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes and cucumbers, can also aid with hydration. These may be especially helpful if you have a child playing summer sports or attending summer camps where fluid replacement may be necessary due to water loss from sweating. Baby Gear Lab, a website with pediatric reviewed items, provides an impressive list of the best water bottles for kids.

Managing Food Allergies

All kids should get to experience things like summer camp, including those with food allergies. The Food Allergy Research and Education website reminds families to break down food allergies into preventative responsibilities.

Parents are tasked with choosing camps, notifying staff of their child's allergy and creating an emergency plan that is easy enough for a non-involved party to implement. Campers have the responsibility of thinking before eating and notifying an adult if they suspect they may have been exposed to a food that is problematic for them. Some suggested rules for campers to have include not sharing food, labeling their own items (including utensils) and carrying needed emergency kits or medicines.


The American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy statement regarding the dangers of food additives and child health. While ingredients were top of mind, one of the main points the statement makes is that placing these items in the microwave and the dishwasher can cause the chemicals to be leached out and into the food and drinks we're storing in them.

Some of the biggest offenders were nitrites used to cure meats, BPA which is used to line most cans, and phthalates used in plastics. The statement also called for action on the part of our government for tighter regulations on these chemicals so that we don't have to be afraid of the food we put in our body and the products our food gets packaged and stored in. Does this mean you should never eat bacon again? Or throw away everything in your kitchen made of plastic? Of course not! However, you can make a few small changes to improve your family's health.

  • Avoid placing plastics in the dishwasher/microwave
  • Eat fresh fruits and vegetables when possible
  • Use glass or stainless steel products in place of plastic when possible
  • Encourage hand washing before handling food and wash all produce with a skin that will be consumed
  • Avoid/limit processed meats (especially during pregnancy and first 3 years of life)

Any reduction in exposure is good so don't feel like you have to drive yourself crazy trying to avoid these things 100% of the time. Sit down with your family and discuss what changes will be feasible for your family and of course consult your Registered Dietitian with any questions you may have.

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    About the author
    Cheyenne Richards
    Cheyenne Richards is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a private practice team that provides nutrition counseling across the U.S. and as far as Germany. She attended the University of Oklahoma where she received her Bachelor's, after which she earned her M.B.A. in Austin, Texas. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is an American Council on Exercise Certified Health Coach. When not working, Cheyenne enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, cooking, gardening, and other outdoor activities..
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