Tailgating Food Safety

Friday, February 18, 2011 @ 04:02 PM

An important thing to remember when tailgating is food safety.

Keeping your foods properly chilled, refrigerated or frozen will help immensely. Having a fully stocked cooler will maintain its low temperature longer than one only partially full.
Pack any remaining space in the cooler with nonperishable foods.

Make sure you have a separate cooler for beverages. Constantly opening and closing a cooler with food in it can be disastrous.

Thaw out raw meats in the refrigerator or a chilled cooler whenever possible. Make sure that all meats are also completely thawed before cooking.

Food that has been sitting on a table outside for an hour or more, should be thrown out. Cook what you think will be eaten in that hour period of time. This is just guess work for the most part, but it is better than having to throw food away that may be used for another meal. Proper planning is key here, but you never know when someone might be a no show, or the other extreme of bringing extra friends that you did not know were coming.

Properly cleaning surfaces that have contacted food, such as raw meats, are VERY Important! If you will be without a water source, make sure you have the equipment for proper wipe downs. A canister of bleach wipes or cleaning spray that is appropriate for food surfaces and paper towels.

Having a working meat thermometer is a must! Especially when cooking outdoors without all the conveniences of home. Whether grilling, using a BBQ smoker or outdoor propane deep fryer. Just because you are deep frying a turkey in a turkey fryer full of hot oil, for an allotted period of time, does not mean that the proper temperature to kill bacteria has been reached. I deep fried a boneless turkey breast once. It did not fry properly because it was tied. A whole turkey would have fried better due to surface area exposure.

Use this guide for the ideal cooked temps of meat and poultry.


Beef, lamb, veal steaks and roasts, medium rare (medium meats should have temp of 160°F)


Ground beef, pork, veal, and lamb; pork chops, ribs, and roasts; egg dishes


Ground turkey and chicken; stuffing and casseroles; leftovers


Chicken and turkey breasts


Chicken and turkey, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings.

It doesn’t hurt to be a little paranoid when preparing food for the masses. You want them to go home fed and happy, not with a belly full of bacteria.

Have fun. Have a great tailgating season!

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