Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service
Food Safety at home podcast series. These podcasts were
designed with you in mind - the consumer - who purchases and
prepares meat, poultry and processed egg products for your family and friends.
Each episode will bring you a different food safety topic ranging
from safe storage, handling, and preparation of meat, poultry
and processed egg products to the importance of keeping foods
safe during a power outage.
So sit back, turn up the volume and listen in.
Welcome to “Food Safety at Home.” This is Gertie Hurley with
the Food Safety and Inspection Service. I’m your host
for this segment. With me today is Robert Tuverson, Director
of the Food Safety Education Staff at FSIS.
Welcome to the show, Robert.
Please call me Bob, Gertie. It's a pleasure to be here.
There’s nothing more American than football and nothing more
popular at football games than tailgating. Food and football
have long been associated with fall fun. If you’re the tailgating
chef at a game this fall, remember to be food safe when preparing
and serving your tailgate favorites to family and friends.
Bob, I’ve heard the term “tailgating” a lot, but really didn't
know its meaning. Recently, I had a chance to get a glimpse
of the tailgating experience. I was walking through a parking
lot at a sports center to get to my car, and I saw people gathered
around the back of a large SUV with tables, grills, place settings
and food everywhere. I thought to myself, “This must be a tailgating
So, Bob, what is tailgating and when did it get started?
Gertie, tailgating dates back to the very first college football
game between Rutgers and Princeton in 1869, when fans traveled
to the game by carriage, grilling sausages and burgers at the
"tail end" of the horse. Eventually pickups and other vehicles
replaced horses around the football field but the term “tailgating”
Is tailgating limited to football games or does it involve
other sports as well?
When we think of tailgating, we tend to think football but
fans tailgate at soccer games, baseball games and some hearty
fans even tailgate at basketball games. Tailgating goes pretty
much with any sport and other outdoor events as well.
Does tailgating present any special food preparation challenges?
Tell us some things we can do to prepare and serve food safely
at tailgating events.
Gertie, keeping food safe from home to stadium helps prevent
foodborne illness. You need a game plan and the game plan should
include packing for a scenario where thermoses and coolers
are used and a refrigerator, stove, and running water are probably
not available. You’ll need to include lots of clean utensils,
not only for eating but also for serving the safely cooked
food. Pack a grill and fuel for cooking the food. Also, pack
a food thermometer. You'll need to use the thermometer to check
that the food reaches a safe minimum internal temperature to
destroy any harmful bacteria that may be present.
It is also important to hold hot and cold food at a safe temperature,
That's right, Gertie. The game plan includes keeping hot food
hot. If you’re serving hot take-out food, eat the food within
2 hours of purchase. Or plan ahead and chill the food in your
refrigerator before packing for your tailgate event. To keep
food like chili, soup, and stew hot, use an insulated container.
Fill the container with boiling water, let it stand for a few
minutes, empty it out, and then put in the piping hot food.
Keep the insulated container closed to keep the food hot at
140 ° or above for several hours.
And for cold food?
Carry cold perishable food like raw ground beef patties, sausages,
and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches
of ice, frozen gel packs, or another cold source. You may also
use containers of frozen water; they work just as well.
Perishable foods such as lunch meat, cooked meat, chicken,
and potato or pasta salads must be kept refrigerator cold,
at 40 ° or below. And it's a good idea to include a refrigerator
thermometer in the cooler to check that the temperature there
is kept at 40 ° or below also. Most grocery stores carry refrigerator
When packing the cooler for the tailgating event, be sure that
raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely and individually.
This prevents their juices from cross-contaminating any ready-to-eat
food that you may have.
Bob, tailgating sounds like a lot of fun. However, we shouldn’t
have so much fun that we don’t wrap things up safely, right?
It is a lot of fun, Gertie, but regardless of what your team
is doing out on the playing field, the tailgater has some post-game
work to do to keep food safe. First, store food in the cooler
except for brief times when serving. Second, cook only the
amount of food that will be eaten. This will save you from
having to keep leftovers at a safe temperature. Finally, throw
away any leftovers that are not ice cold after the game. Food
shouldn’t be left out of the cooler or off the grill for more
than 2 hours or more than 1 hour when the outside temperature
is above 90.
Thank you, Bob, for that helpful information on how to be food
safe when tailgating. That's it for this week. We’ve been talking
to Robert Tuverson from the Food Safety Education Staff. I’m
Gertie Hurley and I’d like to thank you for joining us for
this episode of "Food Safety at Home." And remember, “Be Food
Well, that’s all for this time. Thanks for joining us today
for another episode of food safety at home!
For answers to your food safety questions call USDA's toll-free
meat and poultry hotline at 1-888-mphotline. That’s 1-888-674-6854.
You can also get answers to food safety questions online from
our virtual representative "ask karen" at
Let us know what you think of this podcast by sending your
Thanks for tuning in.
Last Modified: September 29, 2008