You aren’t going to find my family camped out behind the stadium tailgating waiting for the game to start. We simply don’t do that. However, you will find us camped out ring-side at local horse shows where my girls ride occasionally and we sit ALL day long waiting for their big moment.
Over the course of the day, we drain the coffee thermos and then we start digging around in the lunch box and then we take turns heading over to the food truck or food tables, depending on the barn, just to have an excuse to walk around. I tend to pack easy storables like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that I know will keep throughout the day. We buy fresh things that the organizers of the event sell so that that they will be more recently prepared rather than made by me in the early hours when we have to leave the house, often way before sunlight.
However, at a recent event, several people complained when one of several crock pots of chicken noodle soup had mold in it. Uggh! Few people were buying any soup after that, especially when the woman serving the soup simply wiped out the offending pot with no soap and dumped a whole new batch in the same crock rather than use one of the many other ones sitting there. Soup was definitely a good idea that day because it was terribly cold but someone somewhere made it in that particular pot and didn’t store it properly.
On FoodSafety.gov, the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) suggests several food safety tips that are applicable to tailgating of which several can be found below:
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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 °F).
– 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).
Visit FoodSafety.gov to learn about best food safety practices, utilize “Ask Karen,” an online database with nearly 1,500 answers to specific questions related to preventing foodborne illnesses, in both English and Spanish, or to call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline.