food safety fall edition

Food Safety 101: Fall Edition

Light your pumpkin-scented candle, pull out your crockpot, and head to your local pumpkin patch or apple orchard because fall cooking is upon us! Whether you’re preparing food for a tailgate before rooting on your favorite football team, taking in the beautiful fall foliage on a camping trip, or participating in a potluck, food safety is a critical part of ensuring a fun and healthy outing.

While these fall activities often involve enjoying autumn’s delicious foods, it’s important to ensure you’re handling your grilled food safely. We’re breaking down important steps to follow when it comes to prepping, cooking, storing, and packing your favorite seasonal dishes.

General Food Safety Tips to Follow

  • Before and after prepping any food, thoroughly wash your hands. 
  • Make sure you’re using clean cutting boards and utensils.
  • Before cutting fruits and vegetables, always wash them first.
  • Separate raw and cooked meats.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator.
  • Use covers to protect food when outdoors.

Food Safety Tips for Fall Activities  

tailgates and grilling

Tailgates and Grilling

When you think of tailgate parties, you typically associate grilling to go along with this fun fall activity. While grilling is always a huge hit at a tailgate, it’s important to ensure that food safety includes keeping raw and cooked meats separated, as serious illness can come from cross-contamination.

Always remember to:

  • Store raw meat in a separate cooler from all other food and drinks. 
  • Keep ice meant to be consumed separately from the ice used to keep food chilled.
  • Thoroughly cook hot dogs, burgers, and meat all the way through. 
  • Use a meat thermometer for thicker cuts and chicken.
  • Grilling typically causes food to sear faster, but this is not always an indicator of doneness. Meat thermometers help ensure you are cooking meat to a minimal internal temperature

fall potlucks

Fall Potlucks

Potlucks are a great way to share and sample multiple different fall dishes. Here are a few tips for ensuring food safety during your next fall potluck. 

  • Keep cold foods chilled and hot foods consistently warmed through.
  • Use chafing dishes with a heat source or a slow cooker on the warm or low setting to keep hot items hot.
  • Use serving dishes filled with ice to keep cold items chilled. 
  • To try to adhere to the two-hour limit of foods staying out, consider putting foods out in batches.

outdoor activities

Outdoor Activities like Hiking and Camping

Fall is the perfect time to get outdoors and enjoy Mother Nature, taking in the beautiful crisp air and gorgeous fall foliage. If you’re taking advantage of this by going on a camping or hiking trip, there are a few helpful tips to consider when packing for your trip.

  • Plan ahead by doing as much advanced preparation as possible while at home where you have all the necessary equipment and utensils. Prewash all fruits and vegetables and keep them stored in the refrigerator until it’s time to pack the cooler. 
  • To prevent bacteria from multiplying to dangerous levels, pack non-perishable items and use frozen gel packs or frozen water bottles to keep items cold.
  • Easy grab-and-go perishable items are a great option for hiking and camping. A few of our favorites are trail mix, energy bars, granola bars, beef jerky, etc.

when in dounbt throw it out

If in Doubt, Throw it Out

Throughout all of your fun fall activities, if you have any concerns about food, the general rule of thumb is ‘if in doubt, throw it out.’ The max time limit food should be left out is 2 hours. However, you should also factor in weather when considering max time, as food should be kept out for less time, the warmer it is outside. For more information on how long you can store food and leftovers, check out this blog

Get Cooking

Now that you’re aware of all the food safety tips required to keep your favorite fall foods safe and healthy, get to cooking with these tailgate favorite recipes, pigs in a blanket jalapeno poppers or this game day pork and bacon chili.