Tuesday, November 4, 2014

When tailgating, score a touchdown with food safety pre-cautions

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Sports fans are enjoying some beautiful weather this fall for tailgaiting. This season, North Carolina Cooperative Extension offers tips to defend your pre- and post-game gatherings from the most challenging opponent – food poisoning:
Game plan. When planning for your next tailgate party, make a list of items to pack. Don’t forget hand sanitizer, storage bags and containers, and trash bags. Plan to pack only the amount of food that will be eaten so you won’t have to worry about handling leftovers.
If you are cooking raw meat, pack a food thermometer so that you can check the temperatures of cooked meat to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly. Always defrost meats in the refrigerator or in the microwave – never at the tailgate. Marinate meat in the refrigerator and don’t reuse the marinade unless boiled.
Handwashing. Tossing around a football, petting the dog, or setting up a tent will leave hands dirty. Set up a tailgate hand washing station with a portable container of warm water, soap, and paper towels. Wash hands before, during and after preparing food for a tailgate. Sing your favorite team’s fight song – while lathering with soap and water for 20 seconds. In a pinch, disposable antiseptic wet wipes can be used for hand washing. Just don’t forget to wipe hands thoroughly for 20 seconds.
Food storage. Use a cooler that is well-insulated and has an adequate ice source for packing. Ice blocks, cubes or refreezable ice packs work well to keep foods cold. Frozen juice boxes and water bottles also serve as a good ice source. Bring enough ice to keep coolers below 40 degrees until food is gone or returned to a refrigerator. Keep a refrigerator thermometer inside the cooler at all times to monitor the temperature.
Keep drinks and snacks in a separate cooler, since it will be opened more often. Use insulated carrying cases with heated inserts to transport hot foods. Another option is to place hot foods in insulated coolers to maintain their temperature.
Use a basket or tote bag for carrying non-perishable foods. Place condiments in small containers rather than packing whole jars. All fruits and vegetables, including melons, berries and leafy greens, should be washed well under running water in your kitchen before packing into a cooler

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