Be the MVP of Your Tailgate with Unbeatable Food Safety Skills
By Elesha Ergle, RDN
College football season is here, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Whether your favorite tailgating memories are from childhood, college, or just last weekend, a few of your memories are sure to include some of your favorite foods. Beef is always a staple in our family football gatherings or for tailgating near campus, and food safety is always a top priority for my team. Safe food handling before, during and after cooking can be the difference between a win or loss at your next gathering. Be the MVP of your party and know proper preparation, cooking and holding techniques for beef to prevent food-borne illnesses.
When purchasing beef, pay attention to the ‘use-by’ or ‘best before’ dates stamped on the packages, and keep beef refrigerated at 40 degrees (or below) until ready to use. Store raw beef on the bottom shelf of refrigerator or place in a shallow pan to prevent package from leaking on to other items. If purchasing frozen beef, avoid packages with ice crystals, which is an indication of thawing and re-freezing. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw beef, and keep raw foods separate from cooked foods. For more information, Beef It’s What’s For Dinner has an entire page to assist you in safely handling beef from start to finish.
You have safely handled your pre-game warm up, now it’s time to cook some delicious beef recipes for your football party! No tailgate is complete without some sort of nachos or cheese dip. Beef up your regular old queso with this Crock Pot Queso Dip, using the slow cooker to safely hold your dip for up to four hours, so you can graze over it the whole game. Call an audible on your nacho game with some Cowboy Nachos by Ree Drummond, which uses brisket instead of ground beef; or give your fans something to cheer about when they make their own nacho creations with these easy Big Game Fritos Pies.
The After Party
Using proper heat sources such as chaffing dishes or slow cookers, beef can be safely held at 135 degrees or higher for up to four hours; foods should then be discarded and not kept for reuse, even if they are to be reheated. Use this USDA guide for safe food handling to help you keep all your foods safe at home and away games.
No matter what team you are cheering for, football season is a great time to grab some beef and get your party going! For more recipes, food safety information, and to learn more about beef from pasture to plate, visit Beef It’s What’s For Dinner.