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Tailgating Food Safety Tips


Q. What’s just as much fun as going to a football game on a cool fall day?

A. Joining your friends for a tailgating party. These pre-game events have become a pre-kickoff tradition. Here are a few key tips to keep your get-together safe.

supply checklist

    • disposable plates, cups and flatware
    • serving pieces and utensils for each dish
    • disposable, resealable containers and bags
    • instant-read thermometer
    • liquid soap
    • hand sanitizer
    • paper towels
    • trash bags
    • plenty of ice, beverages and good food!

packing – If possible, use two coolers – one for food and one for beverages. Foods will stay colder because the food cooler won’t be opened as often as the one containing beverages. Food should be placed directly from refrigerator to cooler. Any perishable foods should be placed in smaller containers. Raw meat needs to sit in the bottom of the cooler so any juice that potentially leaks will not contaminate other food.

grilling & serving - Always serve thoroughly-cooked meat. Use an instant-read thermometer to take a temperature; don’t guess if it’s done. Pork, steak and fish need to reach an internal temperature of 145°F and ground beef and pork should reach 155°F. For turkey or chicken, the ideal temperature is 165°F. Use clean serving plates and utensils, separate from the ones used while cooking. Foods need to be consumed within two hours after cooking, but within one hour if the outside temperature is above 90°F.

temperature danger zones – Cold foods need to be kept cold; hot foods hot. It is important to keep cold foods 41°F or below and hot foods 140°F or above to prevent microorganisms from growing. This simple procedure is imperative to serving food safely.

hand washing – The most important step in preventing food-borne illness is to wash your hands throughout the tailgating event. Remember to wash hands before and after handling food, and wash especially well after touching raw meats and trash.