Community Magazine

Keeping Tailgating Safe…Tips from NSF International

By Jean Campbell

NSF International wants Americans to enjoy tailgating before and after the game.

I’s that time again…time for watching live sports and tailgating.

Here are some tips NSF International wants you to keep in mind when tailgating:

1. Avoid false starts.
Bringing a meat thermometer to the game will help you avoid taking food off the grill too soon and serving it undercooked to your fellow fans. You can’t rely on your eyes alone, so use an NSF International -certified food thermometer to make sure foods are cooked to the proper minimum internal temperature:

  • Whole or ground poultry — 165º F
  • Ground meats (other than poultry) — 160º F
  • Fresh fin fish — 145º F
  • Fresh whole (not ground) pork, beef, veal — 145º F with a three-minute rest time

2. Put your marinade on the sidelines.
When preparing for the big day, keep your marinade in bounds. If you need some for basting, do not use marinade that has come into contact with raw meat. Instead, set aside a small amount of prepared marinade in a separate dish and bring it to the game.

3. Play defense.
NSF International suggests taking defensive measures to protect you and your family against germs by:

  • Bringing wet wipes and hand sanitizer to the game. Make sure you sanitize your hands frequently, especially after putting raw meat on the grill and before eating.
  • Bringing two sets of utensils and dishes if grilling raw meat — one for use with raw foods, the other for cooked foods.
  • Having a plastic bag handy to store dirty utensils or dishes that have touched raw meats to prevent spreading germs in a cooler or in your car after the pre-game meal.

4. Prepare for kickoff.
Cooking outside makes it challenging to avoid cross-contamination. Prepare for the big day by packing three coolers: one for your raw meats, another with your pre-made foods (e.g. potato salad, vegetables) and a third for your beverages. Pack the food at the bottom of the cooler and the ice on top to better insulate the food and keep it at a safe temperature of 40° F. Pack beverages in a separate cooler to avoid frequent opening of the coolers containing perishable foods.

5. Don’t let your food go into overtime.

While it’s tempting to display your game day food spread, it should not be left out for more than two hours (or one hour on days over 90° F) to avoid bacterial growth. Keep perishable foods in coolers to help keep them at safe temperatures as long as you can, and don’t take them out until right before it’s time to eat.

6. Create a neutral zone.

Come prepared with trash bags and create a neutral area to dispose of garbage, empty cans or bottles, and unwanted leftovers. Keep your tailgating area neat and avoid placing glass bottles on the ground where they could be tripped on or broken. When game time is over, throw out your garbage on your way out of the stadium if possible rather than leaving it in your car where bacteria can grow and spread to other surfaces in your car.

“Tailgating is a fun way to celebrate before watching your favorite team play, but can be ruined if you don’t follow the rules of food safety,” said Luptowski. “These tips will keep food poisoning at bay, and help make the pre-game experience a safe and happy one.”

Additional food safety information can be found by visiting NSF International at http://www.nsf.org/consumer/newsroom/kit_food_safety.asp or contacting the NSF Consumer Affairs Office at [email protected].

About NSF International: NSF International (www.nsf.org) has been testing and certifying products for safety, health and the environment for nearly 70 years. As an independent, public health and safety organization, NSF international is committed to protecting and improving human health on a global scale. NSF protects families by testing and certifying thousands of consumer goods each year, including kitchen products and appliances, personal care products, dietary and sport supplements, bottled water, toys, pool and spa equipment, water treatment systems, plumbing fixtures and many other products used in homes every day. Look for the NSF mark on products you purchase.

Operating in more than 150 countries, NSF International is committed to protecting families worldwide and is a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Food and Water Safety and Indoor Environment. In addition, NSF also and certifies organic food and personal care products through Quality Assurance International (QAI).


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