Man vs Germs: Tailgate Food Safety, First Half

Posted on November 24, 2019 by


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Fans is short for Fanatics, enthusiasts, ardent supporters.  Want to know a secret? Registered Dietitians (RDs), the ultimate food and nutrition fanatics (I mean that in a good way) are also sports fans who eat REAL tailgate foods. I know this because… when interviewed on tailgate food safety for Man vs Germs podcast, I asked the secretlifeRD podcast proprietors what their favorite tailgate foods were:

Laura Poland, my nutrition entrepreneur mentor: Grandma’s Potato Salad

New connection, clinical dietitian Amy Keller: Buffalo Chicken Dip

Mine: Brats! Make that singular. One brat, hot off the grill, slathered with spicy mustard.

Here are outtakes and excerpts from our Q & A topics.

  1. Some of KeepSafe Food’s products, such as the Outdoor Eating Food Safety Kit focus on tailgates, picnics and cookouts. Why is that?
  2. Food is central to tailgate experience, 2nd only to the game, right? Well yes …and the beverages.

Tailgates have lots of moving parts, lots of plays and players.  The game creates distractions. All increase the opportunity for food to become unsafe. Have a Tailgate Foods Safety Game Plan so everyone can celebrate and cheer without worrying about getting sick from unsafe food.

Q: What’s on the Tailgate Menu that we should worry about?

A: Some foods are especially hospitable to germs. Ones where germs grow rapidly given enough time and at the right temperature. I did a search for “most popular tailgate menu items” and, many of them, including the ones we’ve favorited already, are on the high-risk list.

  • Meat: burgers, hotdogs and my grill choice, brats.
  • Milk and Dairy: cheese plates, dressings and dips. Amy’s favorite, Buffalo Chicken, has cheddar and cream cheese on its ingredient list
  • Heat treated plant foods…what? mac and cheese, pasta salad, Laura’s must have potato salad and other cooked rice and bean combos and casseroles

Q: What else?

Well let’s go through the rest of the list

  • Poultry: wings
  • Eggs: deviled eggs
  • Produce: sliced tomatoes, leafy green garnishes
  • Fish and shellfish: You might not think of seafood as tailgate food, but at one of the BEST tailgated I’ve attended ever, the OSU /Penn State White Out game of 2018, hosted by terrific friends (and unfortunate Penn State fans) Bruce and Annette, their seafood boil was the bomb! As a food safety expert, I especially like that the boil was boiled.

Q: Tell us about the times and temperatures, because we are still going to eat these foods, right?


The Temperature Danger Zone is an approximate 100 °F temperature range. Roughly between 40 and 140 °F. Room temperature and outdoor temperatures are in danger zone. One cue to remember the zone: 100 degrees/100 yards. The precise range is 41°F to 135 °F. That’s why your refrigerator should be set at or below 41 °F and minimum safe cooking temperatures for low risk foods is above 135 °F.

Time: Is 2 hours maximum to have food sitting out on a table in the danger zone. Time out an hour earlier, if the weather is especially warm, say 90 °F.

Tip: Use your cell phone as a reminder. Set an alarm for 2 hours to notify you it’s time to pitch or replace.

Listen to the Man vs Germ Podcast on Secret Life of Dietitians

Order your Outdoor Food Safety Kit and receive a bonus cooler thermometer while supplies last

Subscribe to and Download the free Tailgate Food Safety Checklist

© Mary Angela Miller

KeepSafe Food, LLC

© 2019 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties.

Posted in: Family safety