Tips on Avoiding Foodborne Illness During Tailgating Season

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It’s finally here, the moment that people from across the entire country have been waiting for:  football season is upon us!  This weekend saw the NFL kick into gear with a number of high-quality games, and the NCAA season is already a couple weeks old.  The onslaught of football also brings a tradition just as important as the game itself:  tailgating.  But even though tailgating can be a great way to prepare for your team’s upcoming game, it’s important to take a few precautions so as to preserve safety.  A new report offers tips on making sure your game day is enjoyable and safe from foodborne illness.

Foodborne illness is a real threat whenever raw meats are being cooked, but the threat becomes especially dangerous while tailgating, as corners tend to be cut in such situations.  Don’t make that mistake.  You should always use a meat thermometer to make sure that your meat is cooked properly, especially if you’re using a grill that you’re not overly familiar with.  165 degrees is a good rule of thumb for chicken, while a slightly lower temperature is tolerable for ground beef.

One of the easiest ways to prevent foodborne illness is by keeping your various food components separated from one another.  The marinade you use to soak raw meat in should not be the same marinade you coat the meat with as you cook.  Separate the two into separate containers.  The same goes for everything else.  Raw meat should be packed separately from drinks and ready-made dishes like pasta salad.  The utensils you use should also be separated into two categories:  those you use to handle raw meat, and those designed for the finished product.

Proper sanitation should be a necessary step for any meal, yet many people neglect to properly wash their hands while tailgating.  Bring a hand sanitizer along to disinfect your hands after you’ve handled raw meat.  Dishes should also be quarantined in a plastic bag once raw meat has been removed; that way, you won’t mistakenly use that same dish and get both the meat and your hands potentially contaminated.

Finally, a few measures can be taken to promote safety once the cooking has actually been completed.  Food shouldn’t be left out for longer than a couple hours, as that’s all it would take for bacteria to settle in.  Even an hour isn’t advisable on swelteringly hot days.  Perishable foods should be refrigerated up until they’re ready to be consumed.  You should also set up a garbage station away from the food.

Enjoy the game!