Football season is a great reason to get together with friends and family for a party. While the big game might take center stage, it is important to keep food safety in mind during the festivities. The CDC estimates that 1 in 6 Americans could suffer from a food-borne illness this year.
Food poisoning is more serious than just an upset tummy. Each year more than 128,000 people are hospitalized due to food-borne illness and roughly 3,000 people die each year. It is easy to forget about proper food storage and handling because the cool weather can deceive a person into thinking their food won’t go bad due to the temperature outside.
Keeping your loved ones safe from food poisoning starts with proper food handling and storage. I have some great tips fromÂ The Food Safe Families Campaign (a partnership on behalf of the Ad Council, USDA, FDA and CDC) to keep your tailgating party safe and your food as tasty as could be.
- Â Â Â Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the tailgating site. Pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
- Â Â Â Carry cold perishable food like raw hamburger patties, sausages, and chicken in an insulated cooler packed with several inches of ice, frozen gel packs, or containers of ice.
- Â Â Â Be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent their juices from cross-contaminating ready-to-eat food. If possible, store these foods near the bottom of the cooler, so that juices don’t contaminate other foods in the cooler.
- Â Â Â If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your tailgate, plan and chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler. Reheat the food to 165 Â°F as measured with a food thermometer.
- Â Â Â A general rule of thumb for your tailgate: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep cold foods chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
- Â Â Â The two-hour rule is also in effect: food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours so have replacements ready at half time.
- Â Â Â If bringing hot take-out food (like chicken fingers, wings etc.), eat it within 2 hours of purchase (1 hour if the temperature is above 90 Â°F).
- Â Â Â Instead of using large serving bowls, serve dips and items with dairy in smaller containers. Make several in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator or coolers until you need them.
- Â Â Â Offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce opportunity for guests to eat items like dip and guacamole directly from the serving container (double-dipping is a no-no and can increase the chances for food contamination).
Please Â visit FoodSafety.gov to learn about best food safety practices, utilize â€œAsk Karen,â€ an online database with nearly 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing food-borne illnesses, in both English and Spanish, or to call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline
Does all this talk about food safety have you in the mood for a terrific treat? Please let me share one of my favorite recipes for parties with you:
Crock Pot 7 Layer Dip
1 lb ground beef
Â½ tsp salt
1 tsp cumin powder
1.5 cups refried beans
4 oz can mild green chilis
Â½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1.5 cups salsa
1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
2 tomatoes, diced
4 green onions, sliced
In a hot skillet, cook ground beef until browned. Combine salt & seasonings. Sprinkle over ground beef while itâ€™s browning. When ground beef is cooked, remove from skillet and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Blot off excess oil.
Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread refried beans across the bottom of slow cooker, then layer ground beef. Sprinkle green chilis and spread salsa on top. Top with cheese. Cook on a high setting for 45-60 minutes.
When youâ€™re ready to serve, scoop out dip into individual bowls. Top with sour cream and garnish with tomatoes & green onions. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips.
I hope this post helps you to keep your get togethers and food safe year round.