Y'all, no one wants food poisoning.
Keep cooked and raw proteins separate
Cross-contamination is one of the easiest ways to get food poisoning at a tailgate (or at home). Make sure raw proteins are packed on ice separate from cooked and ready-to-eat food. Do not reuse leftover marinade that has touched raw meat or seafood unless it has been boiled for at least one minute to kill any harmful food bacteria. Plates, bowls, and utensils that have touched raw meat or seafood should not be used once the food has been cooked. Use disposable plates and cutlery or set out a large plastic bin for dirty dishes and utensils and mark it clearly so no one gets confused.
Remember the two-hour rule
Cooked food can be served without refrigeration for two hours, tops. If it is 90˚ or hotter outside (which is common in the South!), you have one hour to serve and eat. That goes for leftovers, too. When in doubt, toss it out. Those extra burgers might look like a good lunch for tomorrow, but if it has been sitting out for too long, play it safe and throw it away.
WATCH: Master Three Southern Barbecue Sauces
Keep an eye on temperatures
Your grilled chicken kebabs might look perfectly charred on the outside, but that doesn’t mean they are cooked on the inside. Bring a meat thermometer and keep these temperatures in mind:
Beef - 145˚
Chicken – 180˚
Pork – 160˚
Keep cold dishes like coleslaw or potato salad at the proper temperature by nesting the serving bowls inside larger bowls of ice. Keep hot foods likes baked beans or chicken wings hot by serving them in a slow cooker (if you have access to an outlet) or try one of these three easy methods.
Keep it clean
Have plenty of disposable disinfecting hand and surface wipes on hand even if bathrooms are close by. When spills happen, they are better and safer than paper towels.