Tailgate parties require safe food handling
Nothing says football season like a tailgate party. Cooking outdoors still requires grillers to be thinking about food safety.
“A parking-lot tailgate party before a big game has become a tradition in many parts of the country,” said Amanda Horn, a registered dietitian and family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. “Still, we want cooks to be aware of food safety practices that will cut back on their risks for getting foodborne illness like E. coli or salmonella.”
Many popular tailgate-party foods are at high risk for disease-causing bacteria, Horn said.
“Bacteria can spread when we don’t follow the proper hand-washing techniques or when hot foods aren’t kept hot or cold foods aren’t kept cold,” Horn said. “We always tell cooks that washing hands with soap and warm water is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of disease-causing bacteria. And even though hand sanitizers that don’t require water can kill bacteria, they cannot remove dirt.”
In addition, Horn advises tailgaters to take the following food safety measures during their celebrations:
Remember the two-hour rule. Perishable foods cannot be left out at room temperature for more than two hours (that time drops to one hour when the temperature reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit).
Protect the perishables. Foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, salads and dairy products need to be kept on ice or in the refrigerator at a temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Be careful where you put your cooled food. If you are using an ice chest, be sure to store it in a shaded area and for added insulation, cover it with a blanket. Also be sure to carry your ice chest in the coolest part of the car (not in the trunk).
Be aware of cross contamination. You can help prevent this by wrapping foods well and storing raw foods separately from ready-to-eat foods.
De-contaminate your equipment. As soon as you get home, wash, rinse and sanitize all grills, utensils, dishes and any other equipment at home so you eliminate any contamination and make sure it’s ready for your next outing.
For more information about food safety tips and delicious tailgating recipes check out the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service blog at www.okcountyfcs.wordpress.com.
To learn more about OSU Extension programs visit the Oklahoma County website at http://oces.okstate.edu/oklahoma.