Food Safety Tips for On-The-Go College Students

Reviewed by Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN
eating sandwich on bench

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College is a unique time full of new experiences. For some students this includes living in a dorm, preparing their own food and eating meals on-the-go. Whether packing a lunch to eat between class, road tripping with perishables or gearing up for a tailgate, you are sure to have to transport perishable foods at some point during your college years. Make sure your food isn't traveling with a case of food poisoning.

Tips for College Students On-The-Go

Students usually are lucky if they can grab a quick meal between classes, and food safety may not always be on the radar. Luckily, preparing healthy meals on-the-go is easy with a few tips:

  • If you are bringing your lunch to eat between classes, use an insulated lunch box or bag to keep perishable food cold. A cold source, such as a small frozen gel pack or frozen juice box, also should be packed to keep perishable food cold.
  • If mom prepares your favorite (perishable) dish for a long car ride (over 2 hours), divide cooked foods into shallow containers and cool in the refrigerator prior to the trip. To transport the food, place it in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs or containers of frozen water. Add the cold containers of food from the refrigerator when you're ready to leave. Freezing foods prior to the trip also helps keep food safe. Finally, refrigerate the food as soon as you arrive.
  • If you have a refrigerator in your dorm room or apartment, ensure it maintains a temperature below 40°F by keeping a refrigerator thermometer inside. Clean up any spills immediately and minimize the amount of time the refrigerator door is open.
  • When tailgating, pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or icepacks to keep the temperature below 40°F.

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