Handling Food Safely

Handling Food Safely

Keep your food safe from the kitchen all the way to your tailgate party. Just pack, take and prepare your game-day treats using these easy tips.

Pack and Take Correctly


  • Keep Cold Food Cold: Place cold food in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs. Cold food should be stored at 40°F or below to prevent bacterial growth. Meat, poultry and seafood may be packed frozen so they stay colder longer.
  • Organize Cooler Contents: Pack beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in another. That way, as tailgaters open and reopen the beverage cooler, the perishable foods won’t be exposed to warm outdoor-air temperatures.
  • Keep Coolers Closed: Once at the tailgate site, limit the number of times the cooler is opened as much as you can. This helps keep the contents cold longer.
  • Don’t Cross-Contaminate: Keep raw meat, poultry and seafood securely wrapped. Their juices can contaminate prepared / cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Clean Your Produce: Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water before packing them in the cooler — including those with skins and rinds that you don’t eat. Scrub them with a clean vegetable brush, then dry with a clean cloth or paper towel. You don’t need to wash packaged fruits and vegetables labeled “ready-to-eat” or “washed.”

Follow Safe Grilling Tips

Grilling and tailgating often go hand-in-hand. And just as with cooking indoors, there are important guidelines to ensure that your grilled food reaches the game-day table safely.

  • Marinate Safely: Marinate foods in the refrigerator or cooler — never on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, reserve a portion separately before you add the raw meat, poultry or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade.
  • Cook Immediately After Partial Cooking: If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, do so right before the food goes on the hot grill.
  • Cook Food Thoroughly: When it’s cooking time, have your food thermometer ready. Always use it to be sure your food is cooked thoroughly.
  • Keep “Ready” Food Hot: Move grilled food to the side of the grill rack — this keeps it hot but prevents overcooking.
  • Don’t Reuse Platters or Utensils: Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.


Safe Food-Temperature Chart

Serve Game-Day Treats

Keep food at correct temperatures, both indoors and out, to prevent bacteria growth. Don’t let your food stay in the “Danger Zone” — between 40°F and 140°F — for more than two hours, or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90°F. If your food has been out longer, throw it away.

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