tailgate party table of sandwiches

As we enthusiastically welcome in the month of September with our excitement for football season and the beginning of fall, it’s understandable that you may overlook one other exciting event taking place this month. Some may guess that we’re referring to tailgate season, but that’s not quite it. If you guessed a promotion going on in our stores, you’re getting warmer. If you guessed National Food Safety Education Month, you hit the nail right on the head!

Now, as we all know, practicing food safety is top priority at Publix year round (aside from making sure our wonderful customers have the most pleasurable shopping experience possible). But for the month of September, we take it one step further to help remind our customers and fans about the importance of properly storing and preparing foods to prevent cross-contamination and spoilage.

When brainstorming ideas for how we can most effectively pass along our knowledge to customers in a way that makes it fun and easy to retain, we thought what better way to do so than with a food safety themed blog that ties together all of our September favorites? Read on for how you can keep your football fans food-safe during tailgating season.

Preparing For Tailgate

Surely by now you have this season’s football schedule printed and it’s proudly
displayed on your fridge for all to see. If you’ve fallen behind and have yet to print yours, don’t sweat it – you can easily find it on your favorite team’s website. 09_07_CM_CQA_Food Safety_Image2

Now that you have all the games highlighted and you know exactly which ones you’ll be watching, it’s time to start thinking about the tailgate. Whether you’re tailgating at the stadium, in your neighbor’s backyard, or even your own, there are a few important food safety measures you’ll want to take to be sure that everyone grabbing from your cooler stays safe and enjoys themselves.

When packaging your cooler, remember to keep these helpful tips in mind:

  • Before you get started, washing your hands with soap and warm running water is best, but if it’s not available, use disposable wipes or hand sanitizer. When preparing food, wash your hands before and after handling each type of food.
  • Keep raw meat or poultry frozen and in sealed bags, and pack them below ready-to-eat foods so the juices won’t drip on the other foods.
  • Pack plenty of ice or ice packs to keep cold foods cold. A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled.
  • Don’t let food sit out for more than two hours — or less on the hottest days.
  • Pack beverages separate from food. People tend to reach for drinks more often, and this will help avoid opening the food cooler, which will keep food colder longer, and help prevent cross-contamination.

At the Tailgate

Not to toot our own horn, but we know our tailgating website is full of awesome ideas and recipes that will guarantee you and your friends have a memorable tailgating experience. When your schedule allows it, we invite you to take a long09_07_CM_CQA_Food Safety_Image4 look at all the site has to offer – the rich content will be sure to get your creative juices flowing.

For the sake of time, and to stick with the food safety theme, we’ve taken the liberty of going through our tailgate tips to highlight what’s most important when practicing food safety this football season:

  • #4 – Ice in your cooler lasts longer if it has less work to do. Refrigerate beverages overnight before packing up for game day.
  • #15 – Don’t invite bacteria to your tailgate. Keep BACteria away (or BAC DOWN) by keeping cold foods cold (below 40°F). Cook food to the right temperature and cook foods to a safe minimum cooking temperature. Don’t forget your food thermometer!
  • #20 – Always tailgate with a clean grill grate. Forgot your brush? Grab some foil. Crumple it up, pinch it with tongs, and scrub away.
  • #22 – Over-flipping burgers toughens the meat. So flip once, and only once, while cooking to an internal temperature of 160°F.
  • #23 – Give your grill ample time to heat up before donning your game-day apron. This is a good time to stretch your burger-flipping arm.
  • #45 – Your friends will ask you what they can bring to the tailgate. Ice. You need ice. Don’t even check the cooler. You’re running low.

Our website is full of useful information for you to read so that when it comes to keeping your family safe 09_07_CM_CQA_Food Safety_Image3from foodborne illnesses, you’re a pro. Check out our Health and Wellness tab on Publix.com to see how you can practice food safety at home!

Although the month of September is all about food safety education, we think it’s important to stay educated year round. So, tailgate season or just another Sunday with the family, make sure you’re handling your food properly to keep you and your family safe. If ever you need to brush up on your knowledge, check out this page. If all else fails, just remember these four simple steps: Clean. Separate. Cook. Chill.


Do you have any cool tips or fun suggestions that you’d like to share with us on how to keep your food safe and fresh? We’d love to hear about it! Share with us in the comments below.

Chris M.

Written by

When Chris M. is writing his blogs, you’ll find him sipping on Starbucks iced coffee and munching on his favorite Publix brand product – the peanut butter pretzels from our Produce department! His favorite holiday is Thanksgiving, because he loves being together with family, surrounded by delicious food. Joining the Publix team at just 14 in 2006, Chris enjoys taking the love that has grown for his company over the years and using it to share interesting stories you may not already know about Publix. All in all, Chris is a huge people person and loves spending time with friends – he knows there’s always adventure to be found together!

6 Comments on “Food Safety Month: Tailgating Tips

  1. Thomas McNally

    Great info…Thanks! You really hit on a lot of important, and useful bits of information. You know, you mentioned grills…so I think it would be a good thing to remind people who use charcoal grills to stow them safely when they go into the game. Maybe use some water from your cooler to completely extinguish the coals . You don’t want to come out of the game to find your ride WELL DONE in the parking lot!!

  2. Rita Zieman

    Chris, you are so right about food safety! Another thing I do is rinse or wipe off the top of my favorite beverage before I open it, especially cans.
    Auntie Mim

  3. guadalupe mcnally

    Thanks for the wonderful tips. Food safety is so important and you are right; you can never have enough ice. It’s always a great idea to bring ice when joining someone else’s tailgate. I like the idea of using foil in a pinch to clean your grill, too. Personally my favorite thing to eat at a tailgate is a delicious Pub Sub. Definitely a guilty pleasure for me! Looking forward to some fun tailgating at a UCF, Florida State and Miami Dolphin football game this fall!

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