By Brian O'Connell

It's the height of the football season, with the NFL halfway through its schedule and college football powers trying to separate themselves from the pack to play for a national championship.

So whether you're in Baton Rouge or Buffalo, the pre-game ritual of tailgating may be in your future.

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The Institute of Food Technologists and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have some tips to make your football fiesta safe as well as salivating, since both say food safety is a big issue with tailgating, and that food-borne illness is a common occurrence after improper planning.

It's a good idea to use a big cooler (or even more than one) to store your food and drinks -- a no-brainer, right? But what can make a big difference is cleaning out your cooler before using it and removing any standing water. Use an antibacterial wipe to clean inside and make sure you have enough gel or ice packs to keep food fresh.

Here are some more tips to keep you and your gridiron revelers safe at tailgates:

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