Food safety begins at home

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This chip dip pasta salad can be kept safe and chilled at the bottom of your cooler until you are ready to serve it. (Submitted photo)

This chip dip pasta salad can be kept safe and
chilled at the bottom of your cooler until you are
ready to serve it. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Joe Drozda and Bob Bley

Once again it is important to make a few points about food safety.   We don’t want our tailgaters to become part of the group of nearly three milliom estimated by the Mayo Clinic who fall prey to food poisoning.   Salmonella, E. coli, and many more illnesses can give you those gas-powered symptoms that make you feel horrible, just about the time you arrive home from the game.  Some can even make you sick for a long time,  and others can even kill.  Every year we post some simple rules that can be easily found online by typing “food poisoning” into a search engine.  Here are some simplified rules we follow:

  • Prepare foods at home – your kitchen tends to be a lot more sanitary than your tailgate party.  Prepare as much as possible at home so that preparation at your tailgate is only grilling/cooking.
  • Keep things clean – wash hands, surfaces and utensils frequently and have hand sanitizer for all to use.
  • Separate, don’t contaminate – don’t mix uncooked foods during preparation.  Meats have contaminates that can be cooked away, but not vegetables that have come in contact  with the surface used to cut meat.
  • Cook all foods to the proper temperature — to kill bacteria.  Meat temperature charts are available online or on our web site at http://tailgatershandbook.com/Tailgating101/foodsafety.html.  Always use a kitchen thermometer – don’t guess!
  • Keep cold foods (especially meats) cold – this means you need a separate cooler for foods and a separate one for drinks.  The drink cooler tends to get much more use, so its coolness is lost and becomes dangerous for food storage.

Here’s a great recipe for a pasta salad that all your guests will love. It is a safer recipe because you keep the food in a serving container at the bottom of your food cooler until you serve it.  You’ll like it because it has a bite but not too much that will overpower the main courses like Johnsonville bratwurst.  For the mixer, you can use about any ingredients you like, but we love this chip dip mixer.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
One package of ranch party dip (chip dip, not salad dressing)
One cup of sour cream
One cup of milk
One pound of your favorite spiral pasta
Three cups assorted veggies (we like green peppers, radishes, onions, celery, red peppers, etc.)
One cup of large, pitted olives, 1/4 cup crisp chopped bacon pieces

Preparation: Prepare the party dip per directions with a wire whisk.  Let the mixture thicken in the refrigerator.

Cook the pasta, al dente (probably eight to 10 minutes) and then drain it in a colander. Using a large plastic re-sealable container, add the pasta and chopped veggies and bacon. Chill the mixture in the sealed container in the fridge. On game day, mix in the party dip and put the container into the bottom of your cooler/ice chest. It’s ready to go, and by tailgate time it will be great with any main course.

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