July 15, 2024

Penn State Extension Offers Tailgating Food Safety Tips

It’s football season! That means fans are grilling out and picnicking at stadiums. But do you know how to serve safe food? Penn State Extension is offering tailgating food safety tips to keep you and your friends safe. You can download a free brochure of these tips by Catherine Cutter, professor of food science in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension assistant director for food safety and qualify programs.

Penn State Extension Offers Tailgating Food Safety Tips

Safety starts when preparing for your tailgating session. First, if you are going to grill meat, make sure it is properly defrosted. Never defrost meat on the counter or outside. Defrost it in the fridge, and allow enough time to make sure it’s thawed.

Prepare a handwashing station to take to the stadium. Set up a five gallon water container with a spigot, paper towels, liquid soap, a trash bag, and a bucket to catch wash water. You can use liquid hand sanitizers or sanitizing wipes, but they aren’t as good as soap and water.

Also pack food-grade sanitizers for cleaning food contact surfaces, especially if you are bring raw meat and poultry to cook. Pack drinks, ready to eat foods, and raw meats in separate coolers to prevent cross-contamination and to prevent too much opening and closing of coolers for perishable foods which will raise the temperature inside the cooler. Bring enough ice to make sure the the coolers are at 40°F or below. And pack coolers just before you leave to make sure the food is really chilled.

When you’re grilling, wash your hands before you start. And wash your hands after touching meat, sneezing or coughing, handling garbage, setting up a canopy, petting the dog, or playing with a football.

Keep raw meat cold and cooked meat hot. Cook only the amount of meat that will be eaten in less than two hours. Avoid cross-contamination by never placing cooked meat on plates or platters that held raw meat.

Make sure that you cook meat to safe final internal temperatures. Always use an accurate thermometer, and clean the probe after every use so you don’t put bacteria back into the meat. Never judge doneness, especially in burgers, by the color of the meat.

When you start serving, note the time. You have only two hours before the food must be discarded; one hour if the air temperature is 90°F or above. Remember that your cooler will not chill perishable foods; it can only hold foods at the temperature they were when they went into the cooler. Don’t bring grilled foods home to eat later.

And enjoy the game with these tailgating food safety tips. We hope your team wins!


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