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Safety Tips to Protect Against Foodborne Illness at Tailgate Parties
Saturday, September 10th, 2011

With fall comes football, and with football comes tailgate parties.

The United States Department of Agriculture recently published a list of safety guidelines to help participants in tailgate parties avoid foodborne illnesses:

Keep hands clean: chefs and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. If running water is located far away from your tailgate, have sanitizing wipes available throughout the day. Also, be sure to clean eating surfaces often, and wash serving platters before replenishing them with fresh food. 

Separate uncooked and ready-to-eat foods: the juices from raw meat can contain harmful bacteria that cross-contaminate other food. Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and another for cutting veggies or foods that will not be cooked. If you use only one cutting board, wash it with hot soapy water after preparing each food item. As you take cooked meat off the grill, be sure to place it on a clean platter, not on the dish that held it while raw. The juices left on the plate from raw meat can spread harmful bacteria to safely cooked food.

Use a food thermometer: to be sure harmful bacteria are killed, whole cuts of fresh beef and pork should be cooked to 145 °F followed by a three minute stand time, while ground beef and pork should be cooked to 160 °F (no rest time is necessary). Ground, whole, or pieces of poultry, as well as casseroles, should be cooked to 165 °F. Hotdogs and reheated deli meats should be cooked to 165 °F or until steaming hot.

Discard perishable food: Never hold perishable foods out for more than two hours, or for more than one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F. Put leftovers back in the cooler promptly to block offensive bacteria from multiplying.

Click here to access the complete USDA release and further resources, including:

— a video with a USDA representative summarizing the above guidelines.

— an FAQ addressing questions about food safety at tailgate parties.

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