Don’t Let Undercooked Meat be Your Tailgate Story

September 16, 2021

As fans from all four corners of the 50 states gather to support their favorite football teams, many will be heading to tailgates in hopes of satisfying their tastebuds. But as cooks prepare to serve savory meats like pork, steak, fish, and chicken, there is a serious potential risk of consuming undercooked meat. This fall, be sure to know the risks of undercooked meat and tips on avoiding it.

Risks of Undercooked Meat

According to the CDC’s findings, in the U.S. alone, an estimated 9.4 million annual foodborne illnesses derive from 31 known pathogens, and 38.4 million are from unspecified agents. Among those infections, the top five pathogens causing foodborne illness are Norovirus (5,461,731 estimated annual illnesses), Salmonella nontyphoidal (1,027,561 estimated annual illnesses), Clostridium perfringens (965,958 estimated annual illnesses), Campylobacter spp. (845,024), and Staphylococcus (241,148 estimated annual illnesses).

That being said, it’s critical to avoid illnesses with properly cooked meat and knowing what can make or break your safety!

How to Avoid Undercooked Meat

When it comes to cooking your meat, it’s essential to focus on your safety as well as those you’ll be serving. Here are a few tips to help you ensure your meat — whether that’s chicken, steak, pork, beef (burger), or fish — is not undercooked.

Visually inspect your protein of choice before cooking.

Be sure to check the protein for any discoloration, funky odors, or spoilage like mold — these are usually signs of expired protein, which can be dangerous and cause serious illness.

Use a thermometer to test the internal temperature of your protein of choice.

Make sure to reference the most up-to-date information from the FDA, USDA, or CDC regarding safe and acceptable internal temperatures for your protein of choice.

Visually check the thickest section.

Another way to verify your protein is fully cooked is to cut through the thickest part of the protein. If the meat appears to be undercooked, simply place it back on the grill until it reaches the fully cooked temperature.

So, whether you’re cooking inside or grilling at a tailgate, feeding yourself or a team of fans, just remember to be cautious and practice good safety standards when it comes to preparing your cooked protein of choice. We highly encourage you to do additional research to keep yourself informed.

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