The NFL season is officially underway and Chicago fans are hopeful to get another shot at the NFC Championship. There’s hope for the Bears to finally reach the Super Bowl again for the first time since 1985, but most importantly, this new season means that tailgating has officially begun!
Anytime there’s a home game in Chicago, fans arrive at Soldier Field long before to take advantage of some of the best tailgating in the country. Tailgaters love to grill out and have some hot food to go along with their cold beverages on game day. It’s great to get out and support our team, but while celebrating it’s important to prepare and handle food properly to prevent food borne illness. The CDC estimates that food borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths in the United States each year. The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago wants to make sure everyone enjoys the fun and excitement of NFL football safely by providing some food safety tips:
•Do not prepare food more than one day before tailgating unless it is to be frozen.
•Don’t cook food partially ahead of time. Partial cooking of food allows bacteria to survive and multiply.
•When packing your cooler, be sure raw meat and poultry are wrapped securely to prevent juices from contaminating ready-to-eat food.
•Transport cold foods in a cooler to minimize bacteria growth.
•Keep foods covered to prevent contamination by insects.
•If you can’t keep hot food hot during the drive to your tailgate, chill the food in the refrigerator before packing it in a cooler.
•Cook only the amount of food that will be eaten to avoid the challenge of keeping the leftovers at a safe temperature. (Also they won’t let you bring it in the stadium!)
•When you take food off the grill use a clean plate, and be sure not to put cooked food onto the same plate that once held raw meat.
•Include lots of clean utensils for preparing and serving.
•Bring water for cleaning if none will be available at the site. Pack wet disposable clothes, moist towelettes and paper towels for cleaning hands and surfaces.
When gearing up for Sunday’s game, remember to be Red Cross Ready and prevent food borne illness. You want to feel your best when watching Chicago play! For more safety tips on grilling, first aid or commuter safety when traveling to the stadium, visit chicagoredcross.org.
Remember to be prepared and… Go Bears!
Written by Joshua Enright Gleason
Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune