05 Sep Food Safety Strategies At The Ballpark
By Anthony Wind, MS, Contributing Blogger
Field sports provide lasting excitement and sentimental memories for young athletes and their proud families. But there is a lurking food safety problem associated with ball games—how can food stay safe in the sweltering heat? Each year, roughly one in six Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from foodborne diseases. And in the unwavering heat of summer, bacteria thrives.
To keep your kid safe during their favorite sport, follow these six key food safety strategies.
Chill Out –Cold foods are a welcome treat, but they can spoil. One of the most popular sporting recovery beverages is chocolate milk. To prevent bacterial contamination, pop it in an ice packed cooler or thermos prior to game time.
Gauge the Temps – To ensure your food is optimal temp, bring a thermometer and insert it into food right before consumption. If the food is left out for more than 2 hours, temps should not exceed 41 degrees Fahrenheit. And keep the cooler closed to keep in the cold!
Wash ‘em – Handwashing is essential. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that properly washing your hands may protect 1 out of 3 young children who get sick with diarrhea. If hand washing facilities are not available, make sure to have antibacterial hand wipes handy, which will take care of 99.99% of harmful pathogens.
Airtight Strategies – Keep leftover sandwiches and fruits and vegetables in airtight containers in coolers of ice to ensure that that no environmental contaminants can get in the food. If you bring along food that was recently cooked, such as a hot casserole or pasta with sauce, it’s important to cool the food quickly so bacteria doesn’t thrive. To do this, portion it out in small airtight containers and place it on ice.
Safe Fruit – Bring along fruit with hard outer shells. Bananas, avocados, apples, and oranges are great options for replenishing your little slugger, and they don’t need to be refrigerated. And remember to wash the outside of these fruits well! Cutting into them can push the germs on the skin towards the inside.
Teach Them – Prepping the food for the game is a great opportunity to keep your kids “in-the-know” on food safety practices. Wash fruits and veggies, explain the cooler method and temperature control, and prep the containers of food with the kids by your side. As with sport, practice makes perfect.
Sports are fun, and great ways to build healthy exercise habits into your child’s everyday lives. They are also excellent vessels to teach them about proper food safety while on the go. Play hard, have fun and eat safely this summer!
- Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Eating Outdoors, Handing Food Safely. Accessed at: https://www.fda.gov/food/resourcesforyou/consumers/ucm109899.htm
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Food Safety Facts and Figures. Accessed at: eatright.org/resource/homefoodsafety/safety-tips/food-poisoning/food-safety-facts-an-figures
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Show me the Science: Why Wash your Hands? Accessed at: https://www.cdc.gov/handwashing/why-handwashing.html
Anthony Wind earned his Masters of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in 2014 from Teachers College, Columbia University and went on to complete his Dietetic Rotations at the same school. Professionally, he has worked at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in Washington DC and is passionate about all things nutrition and wellness. Personally, Anthony enjoys reading, running and growing vegetables in his garden. He currently resides in New York City.