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Tailgate Tips

Tailgating Food Safety

Particularly in warm weather, if you could just throw the refrigerator under one arm and take it with you, there wouldn't be any problem in caring for food to go.  That's because the best way to fight food poisoning is to keep perishable foods-especially meat and poultry-cold between preparation and serving.Tailgate Recipes

Why keep food cold?

At warm temperatures 60° F. and over, food poisoning bacteria can begin to multiply and cause illness.  At summer temperatures of 80° F and above, they multiply very quickly.  While food poisoning usually means uncomfortable intestinal flu-like symptoms, it can be serious - in the young, the old, and people with other illnesses.  The rarely-occurring botulism, of course, is always serious.

Food poisoning is a larger problem than you might think too - over 2 million people a year are affected! Plus, food poisoning bacteria are tough to deal with because you usually don't even know they're present.  They are microscopic in size, and you normally can't see, smell, or taste them.

So, for food safety, prevention is the watchword.  By observing the cold storage, sanitation, and thorough cooking rules, you can keep your food safe any time you pack it to go.

"Take Me Out to the Football Game!"

Question: Could food poisoning invade your cool weather outing?

Let's say it's a football game or a concert - whatever would prompt you to head out to the stadium with a great hot supper to share with friends. Won't the low outside temperatures eliminate most problems with food poisoning?

Not entirely. Food poisoning is much less of a threat in cooler weather, but bacteria can still grow any time they enjoy the right temperatures - between 60° and 125° F long enough.

So if the centerpiece of your tailgate supper, a hot chili, stew, chowder, or sausage casserole - cools into the DANGER temperature zone, it could become a target.

How can you prevent it?

Use the thermos bottle properly

A clean, well-functioning thermos can keep your hot food at a safe temperature for several hours, but it's up to you to make sure the thermos is working properly.

Check the seal around the stopper to make sure it fits tightly. This will keep the food at a safe, high temperature.

Right before use, rinse the clean thermos with boiling water. Then bring the food to as high a temperature as you can before pouring it in. This will keep the food temperature as high as possible until you're ready to serve it.

If you can keep your hot food above 140° F, it should stay safe. (At 140° F, liquid is hot to the touch.)

Try to prepare just enough thermos food to serve your guests without leftovers. If you do have a tiny bit left, you should probably discard it when you get home.

Taking a casserole?

A thoroughly cooked casserole will usually stay safe (and warm) in cool weather if you insulate it well. Try several layers of aluminum wrap, followed by newspapers, and a towel.

Put the wrapped casserole in the bottom of a cardboard box, fitting other items around it. Serve as soon as you reach your destination. Again, discard the leftovers at home.

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Did You Know?

…that tailgate parties usually occur in the parking lots at stadiums and arenas, before and occasionally after games and concerts; people attending such a party are said to be tailgating?


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