Articles & Recipes

Tips for Traveling Gluten-Free Safely

March 9, 2018

More and more families are carrying food from home when they travel by car, RV, plane or train as a result of new, convenient, car-friendly GF foods, the elimination of GF meals on many airlines and the uncertain availability of gluten-free foods along the way. According to a survey by the American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods Foundation, 97% of car travelers take food along. Of these, 67% pack sandwiches, 66% take chips and dip, 65% bring fresh fruits and vegetables and 28% pack meat and/or cheese in prepared lunches. Thirty percent leave food unrefrigerated for 3 to 4 hours, and 15% leave food at room temperature for more than 4 hours.*

At home, it is easier to be conscious of food safety and cross-contamination. Remember to follow the same safety rules you follow at home when you’re on the road, say Donna Washburn and Heather Butt, authors of The Best Gluten-Free Family Cookbook:

1.    Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before preparing foods and when switching tasks, such as from handling raw meat, fish or poultry to cutting raw vegetables or from working with wheat products to handling those that are gluten-free.

2.    Make sure food preparation areas are clean.

3.    Pack moist towelettes so you can wash your hands before eating.

4.    Carry perishable food in a cooler containing ice or ice packs. Stow the cooler in the back seat of an air- conditioned car, not the trunk. Include a refrigerator thermometer, and check periodically to make sure the temperature stays below 40°F (4°C). Perishable food left at room temperature for more than an hour is a food safety hazard. If you travel frequently, purchase a cooler that plugs into the cigarette lighter of the car.

5.    If stopping along the roadside to grill, watch final cooked temperatures. Hamburgers should reach 160°F (71°C), chicken 170°F (78°F), pork 160°F (71°C) and fish 155°F (68°C). Pack raw meats in the cooler in a well-sealed container separate from other foods.

6.    When flying, pack food in small travel cooler bags that fit under an airplane seat. Freeze juice boxes to keep individual insulated lunch bags cool. Freeze bottles of water and drink them as they melt.

7.    Carry-out or fast food is also susceptible to food poisoning. If you don’t eat or refrigerate it within 2 hours, throw it out. Better yet, refrigerate it promptly.

8.    Use the mini-bar refrigerator in your hotel room or ask for an efficiency unit. Request use of the kitchen refrigerator.

* “Beware the En Route Smorgasbord,” American Dietetic Association and ConAgra Foods Foundation




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