At any warm weather outing, picnic, tailgate party or sporting event, keep these tips in mind for safe eating:
Wash Hands Often
- Wash hands before, during and after preparing food.
- Bring moist towelettes or soap and water. Keep hands and surfaces clean.
- Always defrost meats at home in the refrigerator or in the microwave – never at the tailgate or picnic.
- Marinate meat in the refrigerator and don't reuse the marinade unless it has been boiled.
Separate the Raw from the Ready-to-Eat
- Tightly seal raw or thawed meat in plastic wrap for transport. This will prevent juices from contaminating other food items. Better yet: Pack meat products in one cooler and additional foods in another.
- Bring extra plates and cooking utensils – one set for handling raw foods and another for cooked foods. This will help prevent cross-contamination.
Keep Coolers Cool
- Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or ice packs to keep temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
- On warm days, transport coolers in the back seat of an air-conditioned car instead of the hot trunk.
- But in cool weather, transport coolers in the trunk rather than in a heated car.
- Remove from the cooler only the amount of raw meat that will fit on the grill.
- Don't leave foods unrefrigerated for more than two hours. In hot weather (90 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer) don't leave food out more than one hour.
Cook to Proper Temperatures
- Cook tailgating favorites like hamburgers and bratwursts to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and chicken breasts to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. A meat thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure foods are safe to eat.
- Never partially grill meat or poultry to finish cooking later.
Don't forget that carry-out or prepared foods also are susceptible to food poisoning. The same food safety rules apply.
Reviewed December 2012