Whether you’re going fishing, camping, or just hanging out in the great outdoors, keeping perishable foods fresh is always a huge ordeal. As the ice melts, the food soon defrosts and becomes a soggy mess that no one wants to throw out— or the food poisoning that has always been our worst fear.

People who enjoy long camping trips or have a passion for other outdoor activities are frequent users of cool boxes. And why wouldn’t they be?

A high-quality cooler box is a solution to all your problems about preserving fresh food if you have plans to take such lengthy excursions that involve being outside. If you have a premium-quality cooler container, you won’t have to rely on dried or canned food to survive while you’re away from home (most of us are not Bear Grylls).

It’s obvious that do-it-yourself solutions won’t cut it, and eating unsafe food isn’t worth the risk. You’ll need a sturdy cooler and likely need some hacks to keep your food fresh for 3-5 days. 

While we have explained how long an ice box stays cold with the addition of ice packs and a few other simple tips, you’d want to know how long you can keep food safe in a cool box.

but first, why store perishable foods in a cool box?

Perishable foods in the UK must be stored at a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius or less, according to government regulations. Low temperatures, at or below -18 degrees Celsius, are required for frozen food. Bacteria quickly start to grow when food is left at room temperature.

If you want to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria when camping or fishing, it’s imperative that you keep your meals at the appropriate temperature. The risks of food poisoning, spoilage, bacterial growth, and contamination all increase if food is not stored properly. The best way to store food is by using a high-quality cool box.

how long does food remain safe to consume inside a cool box?

After foods inside your cool box have been exposed to temperatures exceeding 40 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours or 90 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour, you should throw them away without a second thought. When the internal temperature rises, the food will only be edible for a period of two hours.

If you notice that the temperature inside your ice box has been higher than forty degrees, it is ideal to err on the side of caution and dispose of possible hazardous foods such as sandwiches with eggs or meat in them, dressings, and milk. When kept at a temperature of 40 degrees for more than two hours, perishable foods can develop bacteria that could make them unsafe to consume.

how long meat and other foods last in the cooler?

The following information is intended to serve as a general guideline for storing food in a cool box.

fruits and vegetables

You can keep fruits (e.g., oranges, apples, bananas, and lemons) and vegetables (e.g., potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, and onions) out of the cooler.

meat, poultry, and fish

It would be best to keep raw foods such as poultry, fish, and ground meat for no more than two days. Store raw fish, meat, and poultry at the bottom of the ice box because cold air sinks and it can help them last longer. Make sure raw meat is tightly wrapped in a plastic bag since the juices can spoil the fun for you.

When it comes to cured meat, it can stay in the cooler for longer, but try not to take a risk eating something that has been in the cooler for over one week or below 40 degrees.

steak and chops

If your cold box has a maintained temperature, you can keep steak and chops for about 3-4 days.


Eggs can last in the cooler for over a week, depending on how you store them. Try to store them in a plastic bag without an ice pack in it. If you notice cracks in the eggs, discard them immediately.

dairy products

Regarding cheese, your cold box can keep it fresh for a week or longer, depending on how hard or soft it is and the packaging. You don’t want to keep milk in the cool box for more than 2 days.

The simple addition of salt to your icebox is a proven method for prolonging the life of the ice inside and lasting food storage. Since salt reduces the freezing point of ice, it can be used to extend the life of the ice in your ice box.

tips on how to make foods last longer in the ice box

The key to prolonging the life of contents in the cool box is maintaining a temperature of less than 40 degrees. You can keep food cold with more cool bags, insulated lunch bags, avoiding direct sunlight, and pre-chilling foods before placing them inside the cool box.

Here are a few tips on how to make your food cooler last longer:

  • A little thermometer investment goes a long way. The temperature in your cooler should be no more than 40 degrees, so be sure you have a thermometer.
  • Beverages are best stored in a different cooler than food and ice. More frequently than food, you’ll probably want a drink, right? If you keep them separately, all the food will be preserved longer due to fewer instances of letting warm air into the cooler and cold air escaping it.
  • Using an insulated lunch bag with a cool box will further increase the life of the food within. In contrast to the traditional plastic bag, an insulated lunch bag will keep your food cold for hours without a cool box. So imagine the impact it will have if you use it alongside a cool box.
  • Transfer meals that need to be consumed quickly to the cooler straight from the freezer or refrigerator. You could pack meat and poultry while it is still frozen, and it will keep its cool for a longer period of time.
  • A cool box that is just underfilled will not be able to keep its cold temperatures for as long as one that is completely full. In the event that the cooler has enough room left, fill any remaining space with additional ice.
  • Always use watertight containers or plastic bags to store foods as it prevents contact with melting ice water.
  • Whether you’re carrying cheese, meat, or a bottle of milk, an extra layer of protection will keep it tasting fresh for longer. Moreover, cross-contamination between meals during defrosting can be prevented by sealing them in zip bags.
  • When it comes to having your ice cooler packed, the first layer of food should be placed atop ice blocks. Avoid leaving any spaces where air can escape. Food that will not be needed for at least a few days should best be stored on the bottom. Add more ice packs layer after layer.

Keep in mind that food safety comes first. As long as the temperature of your cooler is maintained, most of the contents inside could be edible for up to a week. If you are planning a fishing or camping trip of more than 4 days, carrying an extra cooler to store dry ice, cubed ice, block ice, crushed ice, or loose ice would be best. We’d recommend taking along an insulated bag and some non-perishable food to reduce stress while you enjoy the trip.

invest in a good cooler

When the temperature outside is high, maintaining the freshness of your food and beverages can be a challenging endeavour. On the other hand, if you own an ice box, this won’t be a problem for you.

Instead of focusing solely on the cost, you should evaluate the ice chest’s features and functionality before making a purchase decision. In short, prefer quality over price and invest in a long-lasting, durable cooler.

go for quality, choose utoka

Utoka ice boxes are a great option for those who know the value of buying high-quality products. Neither heat can enter nor coolness can escape from them, making them one of the best ice boxes available on the market. Our units provide nearly ideal insulation due to their thick insulation, tough rotomoulded build freezer-style gaskets, and secure lid-latching system.

With superior insulation and sturdier walls, our ice boxes can keep ice for at least twice as long as the average coolers you’ll find on the market. Our coolers made from current rotomoulded plastic are durable and can withstand severe hits and impacts.

Consider Utoka if you’re on the fence about spending your money on what could be the final cooler you’ll ever need. We take pride in offering superior quality products along with cooler & cooler accessory 5-year limited warranty.

Please contact us if you have any questions about our ice boxes. We offer free UK shipping on orders over £50 and worldwide shipping options.