Keep food poisoning away from tailgate parties

Randy LaBauve  |  10/6/2017 3:21:13 PM

(10/06/17) BATON ROUGE, La. — Fall has arrived and so have football tailgate parties. But the festive atmosphere can quickly turn somber if tailgaters get sick from food poisoning.

“It’s important to correctly cook everything to prevent foodborne illnesses,” said Mandy Armentor, LSU AgCenter nutrition agent in Vermilion Parish. “It may seem obvious, but it’s really important.”

The four key rules for tailgate food safety are to separate, clean, cook and chill, Armentor said.

— Separate meats from other foods like fruits and vegetables; place utensils for raw foods away from those intended for cooked foods; and put cooked foods onto clean plates. This separation prevents bacterial cross-contamination.

— Clean your hands with hot soapy water before handling food; use paper plates and napkins; and thoroughly wash produce at home before tailgating.

— Cook meats to the correct temperatures using a food thermometer to eliminate guessing whether they’re safely done.

— Keep raw meat chilled in a separate iced cooler from drinks, and remove only the pieces of meat you need to grill at that time. Place leftovers in a non-raw-meat cooler within two hours. If the outside temperature is above 90 degrees, return perishable food to the cooler within one hour.

“Remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold,” said Wenqing Xu, AgCenter consumer food safety specialist. “Bacteria can rapidly multiply on food in the temperature danger zone, which is from 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Preparation of food at tailgate parties presents challenges not normally encountered in the kitchen. For instance, access to water could be limited, and coolers may not have enough space for all the foods.

“If you take proper precautions, you’ll be able to safely cook your food,” Xu said. “A little extra preparation and common sense can insure your party guests are safe from uninvited bacteria.”
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People prepare food in the quadrangle as part of an LSU College of Agriculture tailgate party before an LSU football game. LSU AgCenter archival photo by Mark Claesgens

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