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Sept. 1 is National Tailgating Day

Picnics and grill-outs before football games (tailgating) can be a lot of fun. However, we all need to remember food safety this fall as many of us take part in this American pastime.

Picnics and grill-outs before football games (tailgating) can be a lot of fun.

However, we all need to remember food safety this fall as many of us take part in this American pastime.

The beginning of the tailgating season is the riskiest time because temperatures still are warm. This warmer weather places foods in the temperature “danger zone,” which is between 40 and 140 F. In this temperature range, bacteria, or organisms responsible for foodborne illness, can reproduce quickly, causing food to spoil or become unsafe.

When the weather is colder, some foods may be at a safe temperature because they are below 40 F and, therefore, outside of the “danger zone.” Regardless, be sure to keep cold foods (we’re looking at you, potato salad!) cold and hot foods hot. Keep raw meats on ice before cooking them, and make sure they are cooked long enough to reach a safe internal temperature.

Here are the recommended internal temperatures for meat and fish:

  • Pork chops, steaks and roasts - 145 F, with a three-minute rest period before serving
  • Meat products that contain ground pork or organ meat - 160 F, with a three-minute rest period before serving
  • Beef steaks and roasts - 145 F, with a three-minute rest period before serving
  • Meat products containing ground beef or organ meat - 160 F, with a three-minute rest period before serving
  • Chicken - 165 F (no rest period required)
  • Fish - 145 (no rest period required)

In other words, a food thermometer is a must for any tailgater or grill master.

If meat is frozen, always defrost it in the refrigerator or microwave, or in an airtight bag submerged in cold water. Do not defrost meat at room temperature on the counter. This is unsafe.

Also, a good tailgater always should bring at least two coolers. One cooler should be used to store raw meats, and the other should be used to store ready-to-eat foods, such as potato salad and beverages. Using two coolers will prevent cross-contamination between uncooked and cooked foods.

Once meat is cooked, eat it immediately or put it into a cooler.

 

Thanny Johnson, Program Assistant, NDSU Extension

Filed under: fca newsletter

Sponsored in part by the Sanford Health Foundation.

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