Purpose: The goal of this project was to evaluate current food thermometer usage at college football tailgates, using a mixed-methods approach of observation and interviews. Additional aims were to engage with tailgaters around safe food handling, distribute food safety materials to individuals who may not have them, and evaluate usage.
Methods: Trained data collectors from five U.S colleges engaged with tailgaters to collect data on thermometer usage. Participants were asked about their thermometer usage, and from those who use a food thermometer, more specific information was collected on their personal use (n=173). Tailgaters who responded that they did not use a thermometer were given a meat thermometer, apron, and food safety information (n=350).
Results: A total of 33.1% of tailgaters responded that they already use a food thermometer, and 66.9% responded that they do not (N=523). When told they could select all that apply, respondents who use thermometers reported using them on beef (72.6%), pork (69.7%), chicken (64.6%), fish (16%), other (10.9%), and eggs (5.1%) (n=173). When asked to choose one option that showed how often they use their thermometer, participants responded with all the time (34.3%), usually (31.4%), occasionally (24.6%), and rarely (9.7%) (n=173).
Significance: The results provide insight on the need for food safety and training and specific education for tailgaters. Targeting education efforts to this group can aid in reducing the risk of foodborne illness at temporary food settings such as tailgates.