Fall is on its way and soon you’ll be spending your weekends watching football — and plenty of food is the mark of a good game day for many people.
Whether you’re tailgating with friends or whipping up snacks at home, it’s important to prepare, cook, and handle your food safely. Here are four tips for game day food safety from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
1. Cleanliness is key.
Before you start cooking, wash everything. It may seem like common sense, but washing your hands, utensils and any fruits or vegetables you plan to cook with can keep your food from getting contaminated. Use soap and water to wash your hands and utensils. Also, be sure to lightly scrub unpeeled produce under running water to knock off any dust or dirt.
2. Avoid mixing things up.
Raw meat should always be kept separate from ready-to-eat-produce and cooked foods. Use different utensils to handle raw and cooked food, and make sure you wash your hands and sanitize surfaces in between preparing different dishes. Having individual plates and utensils is a good way to keep guests from eating directly out of any salsa or dips you provide.
3. Check the temperature.
We’re not talking about the weather. Any chicken or poultry you cook should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and any dishes with ground beef or eggs should be 160 F. Check cooked food for cold spots and allow it to stand and rest once it’s finished. If you’re microwaving any frozen foods, follow the directions on the package.
4. Keep food safe once cooked.
Hot foods should stay hot (140 F and above), and cold foods should stay cold (40 F or below). If you’re tailgating outside, be sure to keep foods covered and stored properly if you’re not planning to eat them right away. Store any leftover food within two hours of preparing it if indoors and within one hour if it’s exposed to extreme heat or other conditions.
Find more game day food safety tips at cdc.gov/foodsafety/communication/rules-of-game.html.