Tailgating tips … think about food safety

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living

With the start of the school year comes football and tailgating. The rules for proper food handling and cooking are the same for tailgating as they are for cooking at home. The frequency of food-borne illnesses makes following sound food safety advice especially important. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there are 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year in the United States.

When preparing food:

— Plan for few or no leftovers. If you have leftovers, make sure they can be properly cooled in a cooler; if not, discard.

Pack a separate beverage cooler so the main food cooler is opened less and stays cooler.

— Bring enough ice to keep coolers below 40°F until food is gone or returned to refrigerator.

— Use insulated carrying cases with heated inserts to transport hot foods or place hot foods in insulated “coolers” to maintain temperature.

— If possible, keep raw meat in a separate cooler, away from ready-to-eat (RTE) foods. If not, store raw meat in leak-proof containers and under ready-to-eat foods. This will help prevent cross-contamination.

— Pack liquid soap, plenty of warm water, and paper towels for handwashing. A beverage dispenser works for transporting warm water and can be placed on the edge of a tailgate for easy dispensing. In a pinch, disposable antiseptic wet wipes can be used. With either method, remember to wash or wipe hands thoroughly for 20 seconds. Time and the friction of rubbing are what kill the bacteria.

When grilling food:

— Meat must reach the recommended MINIMUM internal temperature to kill various microorganisms:

— 145°F Steaks and roasts (beef, lamb, veal) for medium rare. (Medium = 160ºF)

— 160°F Ground meat (beef, pork, veal, lamb); pork chops, ribs and roasts; egg dishes.

— 165°F Whole birds, breasts, legs, thighs, wings, ground (chicken, turkey); stuffing and mixed food dishes like casseroles.

— These are the MINIMUM internal temperatures; and for reasons of personal preference, you may choose to cook turkey or chicken to higher temperatures – for a golden, tender product.

— Use a clean, properly calibrated thermometer to check the temperature. Using a thermometer prevents over-cooking as well as under-cooking.

— Cook only the amount of meat that will be consumed in 2 hours or less.

Source: University of Minnesota Cooperative Extension


Grilled Turkey Kabobs

1/3 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon sugar

2 bay leaves

1 pound turkey breast tenderloins, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes

2 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices

2 small green peppers, cut into 1 ½ inch squares

2 small onions, quartered

8 medium fresh mushrooms

8 cherry tomatoes

1 tablespoon canola oil

In a bowl, combine the chili sauce, lemon juice, sugar and bay leaves. Mix well. Pour 1.4 cup marinade into a large resealable bag. Add the turkey. Seal bag and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate remaining marinade.

Coat grill rack with nonstick cooking spray before lighting grill. Drain and discard marinade. Discard bay leaves from reserved marinade. On eight skewers, alternately thread turkey and vegetables. Brush lightly with oil. Grill, uncovered, over medium-hot heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until juices run clear, basting frequently with reserved marinade and turning three times.

Sandra R. Cain is the Bladen County Extension director. She can be reached at sandra_cain@ncsu.edu or 910-862-4591.

Sandra R. Cain For Better Living
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