University of FloridaSolutions for Your Life

Download PDF
Publication #FAR8712

Food Safety and Tailgating1

Amy Simonne2

Tailgating is one of the most popular weekend activities for millions of American families, especially during football season. It is a great time to enjoy good company and good foods and share the good spirit before the game. However, don't let bad foods ruin this enjoyable occasion.

Let's keep food and your family safe from the start! Whether the foods are from home, a store, or restaurant, follow the simple rules of keeping hot foods hot and cold food cold. Remember that bacteria can grow fast at the temperatures between 40°F and 140°F. If you cannot follow the temperature rules, eat those foods within two hours, and if the outside air temperature is above 90°, eat the food within one hour.

If you plan to cook on site, make sure that raw meats are packed well and are separated from ready-to-eat foods to prevent any cross-contamination. All perishable foods must be kept cold (40° or below) in insulated boxes with enough ice, frozen gel packs, or other cold source, such as a container of frozen water. If possible, bring an appliance thermometer along. When you grill the meat, make sure that it is cooked to the right temperature. Also, bring enough potable water if none will be available at the site, and pack clean, wet, disposable cloths or moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces. Keep your tailgate party fun and bacteria-free for your family's well-being!

Listening, learning, and living together: it's the science of life. "Family Album" is a co-production of University of Florida IFAS Extension, the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, and of WUFT-FM. If you'd like to learn more, please visit our website at

To listen to the radio broadcast:


Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. (2005). Bronson urges consumers to follow food safety guidelines during picnic and barbeque season. Retrieved August 9, 2007, from



This document is FAR8712, one of a series of the Family Youth and Community Sciences Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Broadcast as program 279. Published February 2009. Revised April 2009. Reviewed January 2015. In the interest of time and/or clarity, the broadcast version of this script may have been modified. Visit the EDIS website at


Amy Simonne, associate professor, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.