11 foods you shouldn’t eat at the beach, according to health experts

All sorts of factors come into play to make a great day at the beach sun, surf, a good book. Of course, a fridge full of great snacks and drinks is also absolutely at hand. But at the risk of being funny spoilers, we’re here to remind you that not all foods and drinks are suitable for the sun.

A golden rule of food safety to keep in mind for days at the beach: Tea dangerous area for food it’s between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which is when bacteria grow fastest. In fact, the Food Safety and Inspection Service says bacteria grow fastest in this range, doubling the number in just 20 minutes. Some of those problematic bacteria like Salmonella Enteritidis AND Escherichia coli it can make your stomach hurt a lot.

If you want to play it safe, here are 11 things you shouldn’t eat at the beach.

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Charcuterie sandwiches require refrigeration

Packing lots of ham and cheese sandwiches for your crew at the beach or stopping by the local sammy’s shop to pick up a giant sub to share might be convenient. But you have to make sure that someone sandwiches made with deli meats (aka lunch meats) are kept cold, says registered dietitian Allie Echeverria, RD, a modern home economist and founder of Eaton Broshar. Wrap your sandwich in plastic wrap and store it in a refrigerator on ice until you’re ready to eat, she advises.

Shrimp cocktail dishes aren’t safe when the shrimp comes to room temperature

If you’re running a grocery store before your day at the beach, get your shrimp cocktail last and ask the grocer for a bag of ice to ensure safe handling of the dish. This high-protein snack should be placed on your plate over a tray or bowl of ice if you want to enjoy it at the beach, says Echeverria.

You can’t reheat leftovers at the beach

The scenario: You have roast chicken from the night before that could be eaten for lunch. If you’re going to the beach, leave it in the fridge. Leftovers or meal prep might seem like a good option, but only if you keep it hot or cold, says Echeverria. Previously hot leftovers must be reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit to be considered safe to eat.

Your hamburger meat may be breeding bacteria

“Wherever possible, avoid taking raw meat to the beach, says registered dietitian Elysia Cartlidge, RD, who has a master’s degree in applied nutrition and is a recipe developer at High and healthy life. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist, protein-rich environments, so raw meat is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and can lead to foodborne illness.

If you have to take raw meat to the beach for a burger cookout, be sure to store it properly in a refrigerator with lots of ice to keep it nice and cold, says Cartlidge. Also, avoid letting meat sit longer than 2 hours, or 1 hour if it’s a very hot day (above 90 degrees F), she says. Cartilage also recommends packing a meat thermometer to make sure you’re cooking your meat to the correct internal temperature.

Even raw chicken can pose big problems

Even if the beach has a grill, avoid bringing raw poultry to prepare grilled chicken for your beach crew. Bacteria like Salmonella can multiply rapidly at room temperature.

Not only do you run the risk of meat spoiling in the sun, but not being able to wash your hands properly before and after handling raw meat is also a concern, says board-certified GP Dr. Laura PurdyMD, MBA.

On that matter, washing your hands in a sink may not be an option before eating at the beach, so be sure to pack hand sanitizer, she says.

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Beer can dehydrate you

While uncorking a cold beer on a hot day sounds refreshing, beachgoers often consume alcohol on an empty stomach. (Blame the 5 o’clock mentality somewhere.) But the fact is, without food in your stomach, your body absorbs alcohol more quickly, explains Cartilage.

Also, drinking alcohol actually lowers blood sugar levels because as the liver processes it, it stops releasing glucose. This can lead to dehydration (which contributes to hangover symptoms), says Cartlidge.

Whiskey sodas, margaritas and a sangria can really dehydrate you

It may sound crazy, but a gin and tonic is arguably a better beach cocktail than, say, a paloma or margarita. Also an canned pinot gris it is more suitable than a blend of red wine. The reason? Tequila, red wine, darker whiskeys and bourbons have the highest congener levels, which are compounds that are naturally formed during the distillation and fermentation processes. Congeners are to blame for dehydrating you quicker, according to a study published at Current drug abuse reviews.

Fruit- and dairy-based desserts facilitate the multiplication of bacteria

Desserts such as lime cakes, strawberry tarts, mousse and fruit tarts are synonymous with summer. But they probably shouldn’t be taken to the beach, he warns Emily Laurae Carterpastry chef and recipe developer, because desserts made with dairy products and fresh fruit often have a higher moisture content.

The humidity, combined with the warm beach temperatures, creates a conducive environment for bacteria to thrive and wreak havoc on your delicious desert, says Laurae.

The salad can get soggy

Greens can definitely go bad in the heat, and if your salad is already dressed, it can wilt and become soggy before you have a chance to dig in, says Purdy. If you’re determined to enjoy a salad on the beach, wait to dress it until you get there. But, again, you don’t want your creamy toppings sitting at room temperature for more than two hours, so it’s a good idea to keep a ramekin over ice.

Pre-cut fruit will go bad faster

Wait to cut until you’re at the beach to make it last longer, says Purdy. For a popular beach fruit like watermelon it’s hard to cut at the beach, cut it before heading out for a day of fun in the sun and store the melon in an airtight container

Peanut butter and shellfish could cause an emergency for some

Going to the beach with a group? Purdy advises against bringing common allergy foods like shellfish and peanut butter. Being at the beach can mean you’re further away from medical facilities or you may have poor cell service should you have to call in an emergency, she says.

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Contributing writer

Brittany Anas is a former journalist (The Denver Post, Boulder Daily Camera) became a freelance writer. Before striking out on his own, he covered nearly every pace, from higher education to crime. Now he writes about food, cocktails, travel and lifestyle topics for Men’s newspaper, Beautiful house, Forbes, The simplest, Shondaland, livabilityHearst newspapers, TripSavvy and more. In his spare time, he coaches basketball, plays pool, and loves hanging out with his rude but lovable Boston Terrier who never got the memo that the breed is nicknamed “America’s gentleman.”

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