Tailgating packages to raise beef safety

Through a partnership with the USDA, members of University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Food Science Club will distribute special tailgate packages prior to the Oct. 10 Husker football game against the University of Wisconsin.

Soliloquy_tailgateThe packages — designed to promote cookout safety, primarily on the prevention of E. coli-related illnesses — include essential tailgate tools: can koozies, aprons and a thermometer to help check if beef is fully cooked.

The project, which will distribute 100 of the tailgate packages, is funded through an Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. It is organized as part of UNL’s Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in the Beef Chain: Assessing and Mitigating the Risk by Translational Science, Education and Outreach project.

The STEC project has launched a #Grill160ToKill campaign, which is designed to provide information on foodborne illnesses to college-aged individuals.

Shiga toxin-producing E. coli — the type of the bacteria associated with foodborne outbreaks—causes 265,000 infections in the United States, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates. In 2012, the last year for which CDC statistics are available, Nebraska had the highest rate of such infections in the United States.

“Using a tip-sensitive digital thermometer, stuck into multiple spots allows the tailgate chef to find cold spots and verify safe temperatures”, said Jill Hochstein, project manager of the STEC project.

The tailgate packages will feature a set of “Griller Profile Cards,” which illustrate seven types of grillers. Each profile card describes a stereotypical griller and provides a short grocery list with witty, yet realistic items necessary for a tailgate, while encompassing the main idea that proper safety practices such as cooking food to at least 160 degrees Fahrenheit is the best way to prevent E. coli.