Tailgating food safety tips

Stay in the game with safe tailgating food practices.

Everyone likes getting together for a great tailgating event. Whether you are celebrating a high school or college ball game or even a national conference game, Michigan State University Extension and the United States Department of Agriculture offer some great tips for your weekend tailgate event. These great tips can help you and your family and friends stay healthy from foodborne bacteria:

  • Prohibited use of hands: Hand washing is the best way to keep bacteria and pathogens away from your food. All people, including adults, children and cooks should wash their hands frequently. When outdoors, make sanitizing wipes available and monitor the surfaces where food is eaten. Use tongs, deli sheets or utensils when cooking or serving food.
  • Equipment infringement: Many tailgating events involve bringing foods for grilling, so it is important to bring along the food thermometer and use it. Michigan State University Extension and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommend that all meats and poultry be cooked to the correct internal temperature; not meat color, indicates doneness cooked. “Whole cuts of beef and pork should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit followed by a three minute stand time, while ground beef and pork should be cooked to 160 F (no rest time necessary). Ground, whole, or pieces of poultry, as well as casseroles, should be cooked to 165 F. Hotdogs and reheated deli meats should be cooked to 165 F or until steaming hot.”
  • Extended time in the danger zone: Perishable foods should not be left out of the temperature danger zone. Carefully monitor food and keep it hot or cold to prevent food borne illness. Use coolers and ice to keep it cold and take out only as much as can be used in a two hour time period.
  • Cross contamination: To minimize the chance of cross contamination remember to store foods separately. Do not pack ready-to-eat foods like fruits and vegetables, with raw meats and/or poultry. For tailgating food safety Q&A and food safety facts call the USDA Meat and Poultry hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.

Following these recommendations will help to ensure that food is handled safely and will prevent food illnesses for you and your family.

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