How do I keep food safe for a tailgate party?

Cold food should be kept cold, and hot food should be kept hot. Refrigerated foods should be kept in a cooler on ice if they will not be finished within a few hours of being opened. This especially goes for things like potato salad and anything with mayonnaise. Keeping food covered will also decrease the chances that germs will get on it -- for example, from flies. If there are finger foods, make sure everyone is washing their hands or using antibacterial hand sanitizer. Remember that sanitizer does not work if hands are visibly soiled.
Doreen Rodo
Nutrition & Dietetics
Do the following to keep food safe at a tailgate party:
  1. Ice all items that need refrigeration -- use lots of it and be sure to include the freezer packs.
  2. Keep raw meats in a separate cooler.
  3. Bring two sets of tongs -- one for raw and one for cooked meat. Use a disposable plate for raw items and throw it away when done.
  4. Use hand sanitizer after touching raw meat.
  5. Cook the meat to the appropriate temperature -- you can use a thermometer if you have one available(burgers to 155 degrees; all chicken products to 165 degrees) Place the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat.
  6. Don't keep food in the sun too long -- use your coolers to keep salads, especially those with mayo, cold.
  7. Try not to leave anything out for more than two hours total.
  8. Do not use ice that has touched raw, uncooked meats.
Keep sports fans happy and healthy at a tailgate party with these food safety tips:
  • Defrost at home. Defrost meats at home in the refrigerator or in the microwave -- never at the tailgate. Raw meat juices can contaminate other foods.
  • Separate the raw from the ready-to-eat. Pack raw meat products sealed in plastic wrap in one cooler and all other foods in a different cooler. Bring two sets of plates and cooking utensils -- one set for handling raw foods and a second for cooked foods to avoid transferring bacteria.
  • Ice right. Keep foods cool by packing them with plenty of ice (enough to keep the temperature in your cooler below 40 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Cook your burgers right. A meat thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure foods are safe to eat. Cook tailgating favorites like hamburgers and bratwursts to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken breasts to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.
  • Don't forget to pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer to wash up before, during and after preparing your tailgate feast.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.