It’s time to dust off your letterman jacket, flock to the nearest parking lot and fire up the grill. Football season is back, and it’s time to celebrate everyone’s favorite pre-game pastime—tailgating.

We understand that it’s easy to get distracted during the pre-game festivities, but don’t let it affect your decision-making when it comes to safety. Food safety is critical when cooking in an outdoor kitchen so we’ve compiled a quick list of tips to take your get together, whether it’s a pre-game party or a top ten tailgate!

Packing & Transporting Food

  • Make a list of essential items: extra ice, lighter fluid, charcoal, utensils, paper plates, plastic cups, food thermometers, a first aid kit and trash bags are a must-have.
  • Cooler: A full cooler will maintain its low temperature longer than one that’s partially full. It’s important to pack the empty spaces with extra ice or reusable cold packs.

Keeping Clean

  • To prevent cross-contamination, securely wrap any meats, poultry or fish that may leak or drip before placing them in the cooler.
  • Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before and after handling raw meats.
  • Wash cutting boards, utensils and other surfaces with hot soapy water before preparing other foods.


  • Food Prep: Preparing most of the food at home is generally a good idea, as it saves time and space. If doing so, make sure to cook the food thoroughly—partial cooking doubles the risk of unwanted bacteria.
  • Food Temperatures:
    • Hot Foods should be kept at 140° F or above
    • Cold Foods should be kept at 40° F or below
    • Temperatures to Remember: It’s important to use an instant read thermometer when grilling to be sure your meat is cooked to the proper temperature:
      • 145° F – Steaks
      • 160° F – Ground Meats and Tenderloins
      • 180° F – Chicken

Serving Safely

  • Seconds: Never let food sit out, especially in hot weather. In order for left over food to be safe to eat, food should be kept in the cooler until ready to cook or serve.
  • Use clean plates for food coming off the grill, and never plates that held raw meat.
  • Discard perishable foods that have been left out for over an hour in temperatures over 90° F or for more than two hours in moderate weather.

The unique American tradition of tailgating is one of a kind, and we hope that by using some of these tips we’ve not only helped ensure the health of those attending your party, but also a guaranteed fun-filled fall!

And don’t forget! Your local Sparkle Market has all of your tailgating supplies!