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Houston Department of Health and Human Services > Food Inspection and Safety (Consumer Health) > Food Safety Tips > Safe Texans' Tailgate Party

Safe Texans' Tailgate Party

The end of summer signals football season and that means tailgate parties at the stadiums across the country. Tailgate parties allow sports fans to cook and eat outdoors. To many fans, the tailgate party can be more important that the actual game. They spend much time in planning their party, yet overlook uninvited guests - - harmful microorganisms present on the food products that can multiply rapidly when food is left unprotected. Ignoring food safety can spoil a tailgate party or game party at ones home. Score some points with your friends and family to have a safe party. Whether youre headed to the stadium or cooking out to watch the game on television, here are some flavorful safe ideas. 

Plan accurately. Dont estimate or guess. Keep hand wipes to keep hands clean while at the stadium.
Choose foods that are not prone to harbor harmful microorganisms: fresh fruits and vegetables; cookies and cake; breads and rolls; peanut butter. Cooked and well-cooled processed meat or cold cuts products are less likely to carry harmful contaminates than meat/poultry/fish based salads.
If you take salads, prepare meat/egg/poultry/fish salads less than 24 hours before serving and make sure that they are refrigerated below 41F.
Wrap sandwiches individually or place them in single service food storage bags. Freeze them or keep it in refrigerator below 41F to improve food safety.
Keep condiments and beverages such as juice, milk in refrigerator below 41F.
Keep separate coolers for beverages and food. Beverage coolers are opened more frequently causing the temperature to rise.
Put raw meats and poultry in separate re-sealable food containers and store them separate from cooked foods or foods that will be eaten raw (fruits and vegetables).
Keep coolers in the air-conditioned compartments of your vehicle rather than the trunk. Keep coolers out of the sun, covered with a blanket.
Grilling at the stadium: Grill only the quantity of food that will be eaten. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Cook all burgers and ribs to 155F, poultry to 165F.
Have adequate supplies of utensils such as knives, tongs, spoons and spatula. Keep soiled utensils separate from clean utensils. Do not use the same utensil to handle raw and cooked items.
Serve cooked items immediately. Leave cold foods in the cooler until serving time.
After eating, do not leave leftover cooked foods out of temperature control. Put them back in the cooler. Put the leftovers in the cooler. If the weather temperature is above 80F, discard uneaten foods after one hour. During cooler weather, food may be kept up to two hours. IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

REMEMBER: Most harmful bacteria can NOT be seen, smelled or tasted.


Carry your garbage and dispose it properly. Please dont litter.

Following these tips should provide a line of defense to protect you from foodborne illness and score some points with your friends!

For this, or any food-safety-related information, please contact Bureau of Consumer Health Services at 713/794-9200.

Contact the HDHHS Bureau of Consumer Health Services