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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Food safety tips for your next tailgate

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Ask the Nutritionist: Food safety tips for your next tailgate

The National Restaurant Association's Director of Nutrition and Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., provides regular commentary on the NRA News blog. In this post, she discusses food safety tips for tailgating.

Now that fall has arrived, it is officially the return of football season and many of you will be tailgating with friends and family.

Throughout September, the National Restaurant Association shared tips for helping to keep your kitchen safe, and although National Food Safety Month is winding down, it's important to practice food safety year-round when at home or on-the-go.

Here are food safety tips to keep in mind for your next tailgating event:

•  Wash hands before, during and after preparing food for a tailgate. Sing your favorite team’s fight song - while scrubbing with soap and water for 10-15 seconds.
•   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.
•  For the trip to the tailgate, tightly seal raw or thawed meat in disposable storage bags or sealable containers to prevent juices from contaminating other food items. Consider packing raw meat or poultry in one cooler and ready-to-eat foods in another.
•   Keep raw meat and poultry and ready-to-eat foods separate. Pack extra utensils to help prevent cross-contamination. Use one set for raw foods and another for cooked foods.
•   Cook to proper temperatures. A thermometer is the only reliable way to ensure foods are safe to eat.
•  Tailgating favorites like hamburgers and bratwurst should be cooked to at least 155°F and chicken breasts to 165° F.
•  Pack food in a well-insulated cooler with plenty of ice or icepacks to keep temperatures below  41° F. Keep a refrigerator thermometer inside the cooler at all times to monitor the temperature.
•  In cool-weather climates, transport coolers in your trunk rather than in a heated car - the cold temperatures outside will help keep food chilled. For warmer climates, do the opposite. Transport coolers in the backseat of your air-conditioned car instead of the hot trunk, especially for long road trips.
•   Don't forget to follow the same food safety practices for restaurant carry-out and/or pre-prepared foods as you do with your home-made dishes.

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