Once upon a time, dedicated football fans decided that just because you’re not home doesn’t mean you can’t barbecue.
So they began cooking out of the backs of their vehicles, creating a wonderful tradition we refer to as tailgating. Many delicious feasts have been cooked outside of football stadiums and other sporting events.
But sometimes bad things can happen when we stray too far from our kitchens, and the government, in a USDA press release, raises concerns about food safety at tailgate parties and warns fans to take precautions.
“This year, we’re urging fans to follow the food safety play book at the tailgate parties they host,” said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety.
Sam Basha, 28, fan from Dearborn Heights, checks to see if his shish kabobs are done cooking.
Nathan Clark The Washtenaw Voice
The press release uses names of football penalties as food safety hazards such as:
- illegal use of hands (not washing your hands before and after handling raw food);
- off-sides (mixing cooked and uncooked foods);
- equipment violations (deciding whether meat is fully cooked based on color rather than using a meat thermometer);
- and holding (keeping cooked food out longer than the recommended one hour).
Even though most people know the risk of foodborne illnesses, sometimes the fun of tailgating will trump safety.
“I don’t take any special precautions because I trust my own cooking,” said Sam Basha, a 28-year-old from Dearborn Heights. “We’re here to drink and have a good time.”
“Foodborne illnesses? Bring it on,” said Rick Knight, a 60-year-old University of Michigan football fan from Bloomfield. “We’re not worried; the booze kills everything.”
Some tailgaters are not concerned about foodborne illnesses because of the trust they have in the person cooking the food.
“We’re not too worried about food safety,” said Stacy Tilbury, 45, from Kalamazoo. “If my husband cooks it, it’s good.”
Not every tailgater can say they’ve never seen somebody gets sick after a tailgate party.
“I had some friends (who) got sick a few years back after a tailgate,” said Jason Squires, 38, a tailgater from Davison. “But I know how to barbecue. I always check to make sure my burgers are not pink inside before I serve them.”
Even with the health concerns of foodborne illnesses at tailgate parties, some fans treat their parking-lot barbecues just as they would if they were at home.
“It’s the same as barbecuing at home for us,” said Lindsay Hosmer, 29, of Flint. “We’ve never had a problem tailgating.”
According to the USDA’s press release, when it comes to foodborne illnesses, there is no opportunity for an instant replay, and tailgaters need to make sure they understand food safety rules completely. The agency encourages anyone with questions or concerns about food safety to visit the website http://AskKaren.gov.