Tis the season: Think about food safety at the tailgating party

Farm Forum

BROOKINGS – Tailgating season is upon us. SDSU Extension Food Safety Specialist, Joan Hegerfeld-Baker, reviews good planning and food safety practices to ensure the party doesn’t end in food borne illness.

She offers an example. “Consider a serving of meat balls or barbeque chicken wings sitting out from pregame through half-time and post-game wrap-up. There’s a party going on that you can’t see, taste or smell in the food, and this is one party you don’t want to be invited to.”

Tailgating checklist:

· Clean utensils;

· Thermometer for safe grilling;

· Water for clean up, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces;

· Plenty of fuel for cooking; and

· Lots of ice to keep food cold.

Food safety practices to implement during your next tailgating event:

· Keep food out of the Temperature Danger Zone (TDZ) – Cold foods cold (below 40 degrees Fahrenheit) and hot foods hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit).

· Carry raw hamburger patties, sausages, chicken in a separate cooler with lots of ice or cold packs. Wrap foods securely so raw juices do not contaminate other foods.

· Take-out foods, such as a bucket of chicken or pizza, should be eaten within two hours.

· Keep stews, chili and soup hot – fill an insulated container with hot boiling water, let it stand for a few minutes. Empty, then fill with hot piping food. Keep the container closed, food should stay hot (above 140 degrees Fahrenheit) for several hours.

· Traveling a distance with hot food? Chill the food to refrigeration temperatures throughout the product (less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit) before leaving home then pack into a cooler with ice. Reheat after arriving to your destination – 165 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the whole food product.

Cooking tips

Do as much preparation ahead of time as possible. Handling food on site is difficult without the amenities of a home kitchen.

Marinated meats are a popular tailgating item. Hegerfeld-Baker encourages cooks to follow these food safe practices.

“Marinate in the refrigerator. Don’t reuse marinade that was used on the raw meat and poultry. If basting with marinade, reserve some from the original marinade mixture” she said. “Transfer marinating meat in a cooler, in a sealed container, and not with ready to eat food and beverages.”

She added that it’s a bad idea to partially cook meat, poultry or fish ahead of time.

“Partially cooking allows harmful microorganisms to survive and grow to unsafe levels,” Hegerfeld-Baker said.

To avoid cross-contamination, she suggests using a clean platter when taking food off the grill.

“Don’t use the platter that held raw meat or poultry. The ice in the coolers is for keeping food cold, do not consume this ice,” she said.

What about leftovers?

Hegerfeld-Baker said to discard any that are not ice-cold (less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit); and any food that has been off the hot grill, or out of the cooler for more than two hours. If the weather is hot (greater than 90 degrees Fahrenheit) she said not to let food set out more than one hour.

Handy meat thermometer Guide:

· All poultry – 165 degrees Fahrenheit

· Ground meats – 160 degrees Fahrenheit

· Beef, pork, lamb, veal steaks roast and chops – 145 degrees Fahrenheit (allow meat to rest for three minutes before eating)

· Leftovers – 165 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e. stews, chili, taco meat that is being reheated at the tailgating sight.)