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Tailgating and Picnicking Safely this Football Season By Johanna Hicks


               Texans are crazy about football.  However, this is also middle school and high school cross country, volleyball, and tennis season.  Sports fans are out in full force to support their favorite high school, college, and professional teams.  Tailgating is often associated with football season, so don’t let your fun be spoiled by foodborne illness.

               Foodborne illness, with its stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, and maybe even vomiting, can result from the improper handling of foods.  The pathogens that cause foodborne illness grow at

temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees F.  This is called the “danger zone.”  Foods prepared for outdoor eating can enter into the danger zone even when the weather is cool.

               What foods are risky? Almost any food can be a source of hazardous bacteria, but most hazardous foods are moist and contain protein, these are known as “Time Control for Safety (TCS) Foods. This includes meats, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs and dairy products (cream pies, custards, and pastries that have cream fillings). Do not leave these foods in danger zone temperatures for more than two hours. Perishable foods or dishes containing perishable foods should be kept either hot (at or above 140 degrees F) or cold (40 degrees F or below).

               How do you do this? Hot foods such as chili, soups, stews, and dips can be transported safely in a thermos if it has no cracks or leaks. Check the seal of the thermos for a tight fit.  Keep the thermos clean,

then right before use, rinse it with boiling water.  Bring food to a boil before pouring it in the thermos. Try to prepare just enough to serve your guests without having leftovers. Discard leftovers if you cannot store them properly.  Wrap hot casseroles in several layers of aluminum foil, followed by newspapers and a towel. Or, use insulated containers. Hot casseroles should be served within two hours.

               Cold foods can be transported in an ice chest with ice or cold packs to keep the foods below 40 degrees F. Pack the food in shallow containers and pre-chill them before placing them in the ice chest. Keep

sandwiches cold or eat them within two hours.

               Watch the clock on ready-to-eat and fast food, too.  Fried chicken, deli foods, pizza ,and hamburgers, for example, should be purchased just before the party and eaten within two hours. Or, purchase these foods in advance, refrigerate them until party time, and then reheat them.

When you don’t have time to take proper precautions, serve only non-perishable foods. Try canned meats, dried or cured meats, some hard cheeses, peanut butter, dried fruits, breads, cereal mixes, nuts,

and popcorn.

               Once the party starts, follow through with safe food handling practices. Keep hands, utensils and dinnerware clean (disposables make that easier to do).  Spread a clean table cloth on the tailgate or picnic table and enjoy.

               So, in a nutshell, use these tips to keep your tailgating party from sidelining you:

·        Plan your menu to fit the situation.

·        Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.

·        Don’t let perishable foods stay in the “danger zone” (40 to 140 degrees F) for more than two hours.

·        Keep everything clean to avoid contamination.

·        Take proper care of leftovers, or throw them away.

45th Annual Christmas Joys

               Wow!  I never knew how quickly word spreads!  As of this writing, the 1:30 session is one-third full and the 5:30 session is one-fourth full.  But, I digress, so here are the details for the 2018 event:

·        What:  2018 45th Annual Extension Christmas Joys holiday program

·        When:  Monday, November 5

·        Time:  1:30, repeated at 5:30 p.m.

·        Where:  Southwest Dairy Museum

·        Cost: $5, payable at the door – children under 10 free

·        Must call 903-885-3443 to reserve a seat.  We need a name and phone number for each seat reserved, so please don’t call to reserve several seats without giving us names.

Seating is limited to the first 75 per session.  A waiting list will be kept in case of cancellations. 

               This year’s program will feature recipes, decorating ideas, gift-giving ideas, handmade items, and inspirations.  One of the past attendees stated that if you want to go to a Christmas program, the Hopkins County Extension Christmas Joys is the one to see.  That’s quite an accolade!

Master Wellness Volunteer Training

               This serves as a “teaser” to assess interest.  Master Wellness Volunteers are individuals who have participated in 40 hours of training and agree to give back 40 hours of service to the community by assisting me with programs, projects, and events.  No health or wellness background is required.  Individuals will be trained in food safety, childhood nutrition, working with diverse audiences, recognizing reputable websites for information, and other topics.  There is a fee associated with the course, but it is minimal compared to the amount of information and resources included.

               The training will begin in January if enough interest is generated.  Please contact our office at 903-885-3443 for more information.

Closing Thought

Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well – Tommy, age 6

Johanna Hicks Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Family & Consumer Sciences 1200-B W. Houston P.O.Box 518 Sulphur springs, TX 75483 903-885-3443 – phone 903-439-4909 – Fax [email protected]

Author: Savannah Everett

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