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.

Some Chiefs fans indifferent about food violations at Arrowhead Stadium

As the Kansas City Chiefs beat up the Seattle Seahawks in brutal KC weather, most fans weren’t concerned about critical food violations at Arrowhead Stadium.

arrowhead.tailgateArrowhead is known for tailgating and a lot of fans said they were relieved that they never eat inside the stadium.

“I just come for the food, games, beer,” Joe Chames, a Chiefs fan, said.

“We did clam bake.  This year we’re having salmon because they’re coming from Seattle. Tennessee we did pulled pork,” Donna Rucker, a Chiefs fan, said.

An Aramark food safety inspectors’ scathing report of molded food, roaches and mice feces at Arrowhead Stadium last week deterred some fans from digging in at the concession stand.

“The fact that they serve food that’s been sitting a whole week. I’m just glad that we tailgate instead of eating inside,” Rucker said.

Other fans had no problem enjoying Aramark’s culinary offerings before and during the game.

“Doesn’t bother me, so when I get hungry, I’m not going to stop eating … you can’t bring anything in, so,” Chames said.

Porta handwashing in Overland Park, Kansas

College football is OK as a sport. It’s no hockey, but the carnival atmosphere for five hours of tailgating before kickoff is something uniquely American.

At Kansas State University there is a permanent section adjacent to one of the parking lots – it’s called Cat Town — where several university departments host informal functions for hundreds of people before home games.

The veterinary college, where I am academically housed, always hosts a spread and it’s always well attended. More gets done in five minutes at Cat Town than hours of meetings during the week.

With all the discussion of H1N1 flu and the emphasis on handwashing, several of the Cat Town tents had hand sanitizers prominently available. But why not go one step further, with the potable handwashing facility?

The people who make porta potties have apparently figured this out, and Gonzalo send these pics back from Overland Park, Kansas, this afternoon while attending some fall fair thingy.

Stick it in: Use a thermometer to cook foods so your friends don’t barf at football

U.S. college football kicks off Saturday. Time to put on your favorite school’s colors and brush up on that fight song. Thousands of students and alumni will be heading out to the stadium, tailgating, and firing up those grills. Hamburgers, chicken, ribs, or beans, there will be plenty of food on hand.

Use a food thermometer to make sure you aren’t serving your friends and family undercooked meats. Make sure to cook ground beef to 160°F(1), while chicken needs to reach 165°F(2). That way when your team takes the field, you aren’t puking or stuck on the toilet. And using a thermometer will make you a better cook. People are impressed by this. Good food safety will allow you to fully enjoy the tailgating atmosphere, so you can cheer your school onto victory.

It’s all on video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YmyMmjfFo5Y


1: Ryan, Suzanne M., Mark Seyfert, Melvin C. Hunt, Richard A. Mancini. Influence of Cooking Rate, Endpoint Temperature, Post-cook Hold Time, and Myoglobin Redox State on Internal Color Development of Cooked Ground Beef Patties. Journal of Food Science. Volume 71 Issue 3 Page C216-C221, April 2006

2: Focus On: Chicken. Food Safety and Inspection Service. United States Department of Agriculture. April 4, 2006. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/factsheets/chicken_food_safety_focus/index.asp

Top Chef tailgating

Ryan learned on Top Chef last night that California-style tailgating doesn’t play too well in the heartland — or at least, Chicago.

Accurately measuring whether food is safe or not is also not high on the Top Chef to-do list. Sure, the Australian dude (or New Zealand, the show refers to him interchangeably, which will equally please the Aussies and Kiwis) was chastised for being unsanitary — cross contamination and double dipping — but use a tip-sensitive digital thermometer to ensure safety and quality. Sick it in.

Check out our youtube video of tailgaters at Kansas State’s last home game – against Missouri — back in Nov. 2007.

Football, food safety and family

My parents and two youngest (of four) daughters visited Manhattan — er, Kansas — for a pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving party Friday night, a full day of tailgating and football Saturday (K-State sucked but a great day for socializing) and what else, a visit to the Wizard of Oz museum Sunday in nearby Wamego.

Prior to the football game Saturday, Andrew Reece and I walked around and interviewed people about food safety stuff and food preparation. We got some great material. Look for that video in the near future.

Kansas State: Football and food safety

After defeating a ranked University of Texas team two years in a row — this time a 41-21 thumping last night in Austin — Kansas State is ranked 24 in the Associated Press poll, its first national ranking in years.

K-State will be home next Saturday to cross-state rivals, University of Kansas, and superfan Amy — who took time out from the Orlando itinerary to watch the entire Texas game at the ESPN Zone — and I will be there.

The concessions at the KState football stadium are inspected by the Manhattan-Riley County Health Department. Each week, The Manhattan Mercury publishes the results of restaurant inspections. Last week, the results from the concession stands inspected were relatively good, with the major violation being hot food held at too cool temperatures. Tailgating for the sold out game will bring its own risks, but we’ll be there, digital, tip-sensitive thermometers in hand.

It’s delicious… It’s tailgating!

In college football, the Kansas State Wildcats opened at home tonight in Manhattan with a somewhat boring 34-14 victory over San Jose State. The Cats are full of surprises, and not always good ones. When you think they have the other team in check, they give up touchdowns, like in the 4th quarter tonight.

The same is true of K-State tailgating. We tailgated tonight in Cat Town with some of Doug’s lab members. First we ate brauts at the Veterinary Medicine tent, and then we found burgers at Animal Science. Angela asked me where the meat thermometers were, and I replied, “I’m sure they’re in that box with their cooking equipment.” We didn’t see one, so I proposed that maybe they had a standardized cooking procedure with pre-frozen patties and a clear cooking time charted out. Doug said that when they saw him arrive, the cooks called out, “Don’t worry. They’re done!” (We found out later that they use pre-cooked burgers; so indeed, they were done.)

We then went to a private tailgate party where the pregnant hostess, when introduced to Doug the Food Safety Professor, said, “We always try to keep things really safe here!” I didn’t look for thermometers there. By then my stomach was too full to even think about a cookie.

We’ve been thinking about tailgate publicity and reality research possibilities, like meat thermometers with Willie the Wildcat on them and final cooking temperature charts on stickers. Or tonight I thought it would be cool to have backpack coolers with cooking temps printed on them. We like slogans like, “Get‘r done,” and “Stick it in.” I also liked Andrew’s blogpost with the “Heat ‘em up, eat ‘em up” battle cry. But since we have a blog with, hopefully, a few readers, I thought I would put the question out to you. What would compel you to practice safe food handling at a tailgate? There are so many distractions, limited facilities, no running water in the parking lot, and plenty of people coming by and dipping into food unexpectedly. It’s delicious, and not just from the microorganisms’ point of view.  Please share your comments, questions, and ideas on tailgating safely.

Post a comment below.

[pictured is a KSU branding iron (not a thermometer) with this description: "Your sizzling hot Original Barbeque Brand Tailgate Tool can sear the pride of the K-State WIld Cats into most any food item. It’s for more than just meat! Buns, tortillas, potatoes, pie crusts, let your pride run wild!"]

Heat em up, eat em up… KSU!

My favorite time of year is here, college football season. My team, the Kansas State University Wildcats kicks off their season Saturday night on the road against Auburn. Even though I won’t be traveling to the game I’ll still be doing the one thing I love to do before a home game, grilling out. To me, nothing is better than getting in some brats and burgers before walking up to the stadium to cheer on my cats. However, the tailgating scene can get pretty crazy sometimes and food safety may slip some people’s minds. Here are some good tips for the tailgating season.

  • Keep cold food in a cooler at less than 40°F (and keep there beers this cold too!)
  • Make sure the different meats are kept wrapped to prevent cross contamination. Making a burger topped with chicken is delicious, but stacking these meats is only acceptable after cooking
  • Cook food to the right temperature
    • Steaks (beef, pork, fish, lamb) – 145°F
    • Ground (beef, pork, lamb) – 160°F
    • Chicken (whole, ground) – 165°F
  • Probably the smartest thing you can have is a meat thermometer. It’s the only true and tested way to tell if the food is done, and many are small enough to fit in your pocket. These should be a tailgater’s best friend.
  • Hot foods should not be left out for more than 2 hours. As much as you might want to have some food after the game, it is not acceptable to leave the burgers out for all 4 quarters. Put it away and reheat if needed.

              (source: FDA)

The post title is a play on a popular chant at K-state games, thus I find it easy to remember to heat my foods to the proper temperatures. Starting next week you can find me at the Bill Snyder Family Stadium cooking, and losing my voice inside the stadium (from about where the picture above was taken).

    Prediction: KSU 21 – Auburn 20