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Ark. Department of Health shares tips for safe tailgating

How to ensure your pre-game food tastes delicious and doesn't make anyone sick

9/6/2013 at 12:00 a.m.

From the Arkansas Department of Health:

Whether it’s for one of the state’s college football teams or for a pee-wee league, Arkansas families love to tailgate. It is a time-honored tradition that brings families and friends together to celebrate in the beautiful fall weather. If you are planning a tailgate, here are some safety tips that you may want to consider from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to ensure your food tastes delicious and doesn’t make anyone sick.

When you’re transporting food to the game, make sure you pack it securely in coolers to keep it cold. The cooler should be the same temperature as your refrigerator, about 40 degrees F. Keep raw meats wrapped tightly and stored away from other foods so their juices don’t drip.

In addition to a grill and fuel for the grill, you’ll want to bring a food thermometer so you can make sure any meat you’re cooking is done all the way through. Don’t rely on cutting the meat open and guessing if it looks done. Follow these guidelines:

• Poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F 
• Ground meat should be cooked to 160 degrees F 
• Beef, pork and lamb should be cooked to 145 degrees F

When you’re serving the food, make sure you put it on a clean plate. Don’t serve cooked food with the plates or utensils that you used to prepare the raw meat. That’s just asking for germs to spread and bacteria that can make you sick cannot be smelled or tasted. Therefore, if the weather is warm, don’t leave food sitting out for more than an hour at your tailgate. 

Pack cleaning supplies. Juices dripping from raw meats or grilling supplies could spread bacteria on tables or other surfaces at your tailgate. Bring along some soap and water or disinfectant wipes to clean up any messes and prevent the rest of your food from getting contaminated.

And if those leftovers have been sitting out the entire time you were in the stadium, don’t bother taking them home. Throw them out to avoid the possibility of food borne illnesses.

For more information, go the USDA’s Food Service and Inspection Service website.

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