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Preparing Safe Meals

Tailgating food safety

Glenyce Peterson-Vangsness

People picking up food at a picnic.

The football tailgating season is here. "Tailgating," literally means serving food and drink from the tailgate of a car or truck. Tailgating has evolved over the years and become more elaborate. With an outdoor kitchen comes food safety concerns that could put tailgaters at risk for foodborne illness.

What are the rules of the tailgating food safety game?

Keep it clean

Keep cold foods cold

The temperature "danger zone" is 40 - 140°F. Bacteria multiplies quickly on perishable foods. Foods in the temperature danger zone for two or more hours are unsafe to eat and should be thrown out. If it is 90°F or higher outside, food should be thrown out after one hour.

Keep hot foods hot

Grill it right

Safe minimum internal temperatures

All poultry (whole, parts, ground) 165 °F
Ground meats (beef, pork, lamb) 160 °F
Beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, roasts, and chops 145 °F**
Hot dogs and bratwursts 165 °F

**as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meats and poultry to higher temperatures.

Clean the food thermometer after each use to avoid cross contamination.

Serve it safe

Clean up

Reviewed by Suzanne Driessen 2016

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