Proper food handling and sanitation techniques are necessary to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among the members of your trip. Gastrointestinal illnesses are of primary concern. The usual source of gastrointestinal organisms is the human intestinal tract. Some organisms found in the nose or in infected skin lesions can produce a powerful toxin which cannot be destroyed by heat, and which can cause severe gastrointestinal illness. In addition to human sources, meat and poultry may be contaminated. If these foods are inadequately cooked, the result will be the contamination of utensils, preparation surfaces, and the hands of handlers.
Following contamination of a food, it is usually necessary for the bacteria to reproduce before an infective dose is developed. Three factors are required for reproduction: time, temperature, and a nutrient source.
It usually takes no more than 3 to 4 hours after food has been contaminated to produce enough bacterial growth to cause illness in a large number of people. Most of the organisms of concern will grow well between 77 F and 114 F.
In order to prevent contamination of food during its preparation along the river, personal and environmental cleanliness are vitally important. No one with symptoms of a communicable disease, especially diarrhea, should be allowed to prepare food or handle utensils for others. Neither should anyone with infected wounds or boils be permitted to handle food. As disease causing organisms often get into food from hands of a person preparing food, scrupulous personal cleanliness is important. Washing the hands with soap and water is essential after going to the toilet, handling raw meat and poultry, putting fingers in the nose, eating, smoking, or handling objects that may be contaminated.
All surfaces with which food comes into contact during preparation, including knives, utensils, cutting boards, and table tops, must be clean and sanitary. Tables and equipment used for preparing raw meats and poultry should not be used for preparing other foods until they have been cleaned and sanitized thoroughly. Use a sanitizing solution with a chlorine concentration of 100 200 ppm for these surfaces. A test kit is recommended to monitor the concentration of the sanitizing solution.
The means by which foods become contaminated with disease organisms, and the subsequent processes through which these organisms pass in order to become dangerous to human health, dictate the procedures necessary to interrupt the chain of events leading to an outbreak of human illness. Briefly stated, these procedures are:
It is recommended to sanitize dishes and utensils using the 3 bucket system. Dish wash buckets should be constructed of non corrosive material so they are smooth and easy to wash. Place 3 buckets of water below the high water mark to leave the beach free of soap and spilled food. The system is as follows:
Last updated: December 6, 2014