Weatherford Democrat

September 22, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Tailgating and food safety


Weatherford Democrat

— By KATHY SMITH

One fun thing about football season or any other sporting event can be the tailgate parties.

Keeping food safe during these fun parties requires the same safe food handling practices as for outdoor picnics.

When packing for that tailgate party, you need to include lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving the safely cooked food. In addition to a grill and fuel for cooking the food, be sure to pack a food thermometer so that you can make sure the meat and poultry you cook reaches a high enough temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present. 

Keeping food at a safe temperature between home, the grocery store, the restaurant and the tailgate location can help prevent food-borne illness. Follow these tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure your food stays safe:

• Carry cold perishable food such as raw hamburger patties, sausages and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs or containers of ice.

• Place an appliance thermometer in the cooler so you can check to be sure the food stays at 40 degrees F or below.

• When packing the cooler for an outing, be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food.

• Perishable cooked food such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, chicken and potato or pasta salads must be kept refrigerator cold also.

• If bringing hot take-out food, eat it within two hours of purchase (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F).

• To keep food such as soup, chili and stew hot, use an insulated container. Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes, empty and then put in the piping hot food. If you keep the insulated container closed, the food should stay hot (140 degrees F or above) for several hours.

• If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your tailgate, plan ahead and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 degrees F as measured with a food thermometer.

• In addition to a grill and fuel for cooking food, pack a food thermometer so you can check and make sure the meat and poultry reach a high enough temperature to destroy harmful bacteria that may be present.

• Include lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving safely cooked food.

• Bring water for cleaning if not available at the site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.

• Do not partially cook meat or poultry ahead of time. Partially cooked foods allow for bacteria to survive and multiply.