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Sept. 29, 2022
By Rebekah Hall U of A System Division of Agriculture
(834 words) (Newsrooms: With sidebar: 09-29-2022-ark-cowboy-caviar-recipe; with art at https://flic.kr/p/2nPLDfW)
LITTLE ROCK — No matter the score, football season brings plenty of opportunities
to enjoy tailgating and outdoor fun with family and friends. To make the most of game
day, be sure to follow food safety guidelines by keeping and cooking meat at the proper
A critical element of food safety is keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Bryan
Mader, extension assistant professor and health specialist for the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture, said not having sufficient sources for refrigeration
is a common mistake when preparing food outdoors.
“While the typical on-the-go option to keep food cold or frozen is a cooler, I would
suggest making sure the cooler is rated for the length of time you plan to have food
outside of a refrigerator or freezer,” Mader said.
For example, if planning to cook burgers 3 hours after removing them from the fridge
at home, ensure the cooler is rated to keep foods cold for at least that long. Keeping
food at a safe temperature is key to preventing foodborne illness.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, cold perishable foods – such as raw
hamburger patties, sausages and chicken – should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit
or below to prevent bacterial growth.
When packing a cooler, be sure any raw meats are securely wrapped to prevent cross-contaminating
other food. Other perishable cooked foods, such as luncheon meat, cooked meat, and
potato or pasta salads must also be kept refrigerator cold.
Mader said to remember the “two hour” rule. “Any foods that would normally require
refrigeration or heating to maintain should be discarded after it’s spent two hours
outside of a refrigeration or heat source,” he said.
To keep food such as soup or chili hot during game day, use an insulated container.
Prepare the container by filling it with boiling water, letting it stand for a few
minutes, then emptying it before putting in the piping hot food. If the insulated
container is kept closed, the food should stay hot – 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above
– for several hours.
It’s important to never partially cook meat or poultry ahead of time. When cooked
partially, food does not get cooked to a safe temperature, which allows harmful bacteria
to survive and spread.
Be sure to pack a food thermometer to ensure meats are cooked to a safe temperature.
According to the USDA, all raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal should be cooked to
an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. All poultry should be cooked to
an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Derico Setyabrata, assistant professor of meat science for the Division of Agriculture,
said using a meat thermometer also helps prevent overcooking meat, which impacts its
texture and flavor.
“Make sure you put your thermometer in from the side of the meat and measure at the
very center of the product,” Setyabrata said. “Also, lift your product off the grill
when you are doing it.”
Setyabrata said that if making one’s own burger mixture, be sure not to overmix it,
especially after adding salt.
“Salt will extract the protein in the meat, which helps make your burger stay together,”
he said. “But overmixing it will extract the protein too much and make your product
Another key to grilling delicious meats is to “not be afraid of seasoning,” Setyabrata
“Adding spices a few minutes before you grill will really improve the flavor,” he
said. “I think you can never go wrong with salt, black pepper, garlic and onion powder,
but don’t be afraid to explore. There are many ready-to-use seasonings and spice mixes
in stores, and that could be an easy way to improve your product’s flavor. Marinating
your meat will also help to improve the flavor, tenderness and juiciness of your meat.”
For people who may be new to grilling, Setyabrata suggests cooking on medium heat,
as “this will help you make a more evenly cooked product.”
“You can use high heat to finish your product, making a seared crust that will greatly
improve your eating experience,” he said.
It’s also important to allow cooked meat to rest for between five to 10 minutes before
eating. Setyabrata said this “allows the muscle fibers to relax and reabsorb the moisture
back into the structure,” resulting in a better eating experience.
Setyabrata said using the correct cooking method for specific cuts of meat is also
“Cuts like ribeye, striploin, tenderloin or top sirloin are good cuts for grilling,
and a bit more forgiving,” he said. “You can use cuts from the hind legs as well,
but it would be best to cut them smaller – like kabobs – or cook them low and slow
to make sure that the product has good palatability. They are awesome cuts, but just
need a little more love and attention.”
For more information about tailgating food safety, visit the USDA’s tailgating food safety Q & A or check out the Cooperative Extension Service’s five tips for tailgating.
To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension
Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @AR_Extension. To learn more about Division
of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture,
visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen
agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption
of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative
Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work
within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas
System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex,
gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital
or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and
is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
# # #
Media Contact:Rebekah Hall email@example.com @RKHall_501-671-2061