tailgating food safetyWith football season ready to begin this weekend, it is time to get prepared and be safe at the same time.

The USDA has a list of some tailgating food safety items you should keep in mind.

Here are a few items listed on the USDA Site:

  • Carry cold perishable food like 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 °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, too.
  • If bringing hot take-out food, eat it within 2 hours of purchase (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 °F).
  • To keep food like 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 °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 °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 the safely cooked food.
  • Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.

Source: USDA Tailgating Food Safety


In addition, make sure you bring a meat thermometer and know the proper temperatures that meat must be cooked at to kill all types of bacteria and salmonella.

  • All poultry 165 °F
  • Ground meats 160 °F
  • Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, roasts, and chops 145 °F**
  • Leftovers, reheating 165 °F

Source: USDA Tailgating Food Safety

I would invite you to check out the USDA Site for additional information regarding tailgating and food safety.

This short video looks at a few ways to have a fun and safe tailgating experience.

photo credit: pennstatelive via photo pin cc