UNL to Give Away Free Grilling Packages to Raise Awareness of Beef Safety

October 8, 2015

Lincoln, Neb. — Husker football fans tailgating prior to Saturday’s game should be on the lookout for students in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Food Science Club who will be handing out the ultimate tailgating package. These packages are equipped with essential tools; a koozie to keep your drinks cold, aprons to keep that sauce off your jeans, and a thermometer to be sure your beef is fully cooked- because no one wants to have to leave the tailgate because they ate undercooked beef.

After partnering with the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Prevention, Detection and Control of Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC), UNL will distribute 100 packages with materials ideal for the safety of any cookout in an effort to bring awareness of beef safety and the prevention of E. coli-related illnesses this tailgating season.

This coordination with  UNL is a part of STEC-CAP’s #Grill160ToKill campaign, a creative and fresh push for the education of foodborne illnesses among 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 for STEC CAP at UNL.

With more outdoor grilling taking place in the coming months, it is essential that grillers are aware of the risks associated with improper food preparation. As found with each tailgate package, a set of “Griller Profile Cards” has been created to illustrate seven of the many different types of grillers out there. 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° Fahrenheit is the best way to prevent E. coli. 

Jill Hochstein
STEC CAP Project Manager