The Best Insulated Coolers
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that every year, 48 million people get sick, 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 people die in the United States from food poisoning. Pregnant women, young children, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems such as those with diabetes, HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer are especially at risk for developing foodborne illnesses.
There are several ways that you can help prevent foodborne illness. First, you should always wash your hands well before handling food. You should also wash fruits and vegetables and keep surfaces and utensils clean. Use separate cutting boards and utensils for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Use a food thermometer to ensure that food is adequately heated to kill bacteria. Keep hot food hot (greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit) and cold foods cold (less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit). Between 40 and 140 degrees is what is known as the "temperature danger zone," when microorganisms multiply quickly and can result in food poisoning.
If you're going camping, to the beach, or to the big game, you can make use of a cooler to help keep your food at a safe temperature. Don't ruin that outing you've been looking forward to with a case of foodborne illness! Here are two of our favorite coolers to ensure that not only your drinks stay refreshingly cold, but that also your food stays safe!
Best Hard-Sided Cooler: Igloo MaxCold Quantum Roller Cooler
Hard-sided coolers are measured by volume and can often hold more than soft-sided coolers. They also are good options for rugged use such as camping. This Igloo MaxCold Cooler features Ultratherm insulation that allows it to hold ice for up to five days. A telescoping handle can be extended and locked for comfortable pulling or pushing. This cooler additionally includes handles on the side to make it easier to get into and out of your car. There are four self-draining cup holders that are built into the lid of this cooler to keep your drinks nearby and secure while draining excess condensation. There is also an internal shelf for setting drinks and condiments. This cooler measures 20.39 inches by 18.12 inches by 19.06 inches and weighs 13 pounds. Igloo offers a 1-year limited warranty on this product.
Best Soft-Sided Cooler: Polar Bear Cooler
Soft-sided coolers weigh less than hard-sided coolers and are easier to store when not in use. It is designed to keep ice frozen for 24-hours in 100-degree heat thanks to its one-inch thick, 10-gauge high-density foam insulation. The liner is leak-proof and made of anti-microbial FDA food-grade TPU double-coated nylon. The liner can actually be pulled inside out to wipe it clean. Reviewers loved that this cooler comes with an aluminum bottle opener attached to the zipper! The 48-pack size can fit 48 standard beverage cans plus 20 pounds of ice, or 36 bottles plus 20 pounds of ice. It measures 21-inches by 13-inches by 13-inches. Smaller sizes are also available, as well as a backpack version. While it's expensive upfront, keep in mind that Polar Bear offers a generous 1-year full replacement warranty and lifetime pro-rated warranty, so you can rest assured that you'll be getting satisfaction out of this cooler for years to come!
A cooler helps to keep your food safe and your beverages icy cold. Whether you choose a hard- or soft-sided cooler will depend on your individual needs and preferences. Start with cold foods and beverages, and plan to keep foods that you don't need right away or plan to eat as often at the bottom of the cooler. Ice blocks tend to keep your cooler colder than crushed ice. If you're worried about certain items getting squished, pack them at the top of the cooler. Finally, don't open your cooler more than you have to so that it can retain its cold temperature more efficiently.