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Top 5 Tailgating Tips: November 15, 2013

Fall means football and food to many a fan. When you’re planning your next tailgate party, play it smart. We’re breaking down the top 5 tips to keep your spread safe.

“There’s a tendency to relax when you’re in a less stratified environment such as a barbeque or recreational activity,” says Larry Altier, director of food and nutrition with Lee Memorial Health System.

First, don’t be afraid to turn on the heat. When it comes to meats on the grill, cook beef and chicken thoroughly.

“It is very difficult to just look at a product and presume that it is cooked to the right temperature and we really recommend that folks use a temperature thermometer. If it does cook to the proper temperature, most food borne pathogens cannot survive,” says Altier.

Healthy veggies aren’t immune to food borne pathogens. Actually their one of the most penalized food groups.

“In the case of a leafy vegetable even if it’s states it’s pre-washed, I would recommend that you wash it prior to use. Challenges with scallions and sprouts are the compactness of that particular vegetable. There’s just too many opportunities for bacteria to get into areas that you can’t wash,” says Altier.

Cross contamination is another big infraction. Take the time to pack enough utensils so that you won’t be temped to stick the fork you’re grilling with into a side dish, or worse yet, your mouth.

And devote a cooler for cold foods with plenty of ice, icepacks or frozen gel packs.

“While you’re at your event keep it under refrigeration at 41 degrees or less and that will protect any potential growth of pathogens,” says Altier.

If you plan on returning to the spread later in the day, stock it with spoil-proof items. Like chips, crackers, uncut fruit and baked goods. These tips should help you score with the foodies on game day.