College football season has kicked-off and many may already be planning what to make at the next game's tailgate party. There are however a few things to keep in mind to make sure no one has to leave the big game with an upset stomach.
Food needs to be kept at appropriate temperatures. Cold foods should be kept at below 40 degrees, while hot foods should be kept at temperatures of 140 degrees or higher. If cooking food at home rather than on-site it is important to cook food thoroughly rather than half at home and half on-site.
Another important tip for staying healthy is washing hands and food preparation tools with soap and water to avoid cross-contamination. To avoid cross-contamination in the cooler, wrap meats, poultry or fish up tight to avoid juices leaking out.
How you pack your cooler is an important part of maintaining food safety as well. Full coolers will maintain low temperatures longer so empty spaces should be packed with ice or reusable cold packs. Drinks should be kept in a separate cooler allowing the food cooler to be kept closed as much as possible.
Upon reaching the tailgating site be sure to pull the food out only when it is time to serve it. This will keep any "seconds" safe to eat. Other tips include using a meat thermometer to make sure the food is reaching the appropriate temperatures; transferring food off the grill onto clean, unused plates; and using lids and other covers to keep insects and other contaminants away from the food.
Following these tips will help to ensure everyone stays safe during tailgating season.