Kick off your Super Bowl gathering with critical food safety precautions
This year’s Super Bowl will feature second-year quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals facing off against the Los Angeles Rams with almost as many stars as the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Millions of Americans will watch Super Bowl LVI and snack on hot and cold food throughout the four-hour festivities.
The length of the event means tables across the nation will have food out in room temperature settings for hours, leaving them susceptible to bacteria growth. And as any football fan knows, the snacking doesn’t stop until the game does.
“No matter who you’re rooting for, foodborne illness is a dangerous opponent we face during the game,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
Here are some food safety tips for Super Bowl Sunday from the USDA:
#1 Remember Your Four Steps to Food Safety
- Clean: Wash hands for 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat and poultry. Clean hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before cooking, during preparation and serving. After cleaning surfaces that raw meat and poultry have touched, apply a commercial or homemade sanitizing solution (1 tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water). Use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Separate: Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready-to-eat, such as raw vegetables and fruits.
- Cook: Confirm foods are cooked to a safe internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
- Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Don’t leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours. Set out portions of foods and refill serving dishes instead of setting out all of the food at the beginning of the game.
#2 Cook Your Food to a Safe Internal Temperature
- Using a food thermometer, ensure you reach a safe internal temperature when cooking: meat (whole beef, pork and lamb) 145 degrees F with a 3-minute resting time after removing from heat; ground meats 160 degrees F; poultry (ground and whole) 165 degrees F; eggs 160 degrees F; fish and shellfish 145 degrees F; and leftovers and casseroles 165 degrees F.
- If chicken wings are on the menu, use a food thermometer on several wings to gauge the doneness of the entire batch. If one is under 165 F, continue cooking all wings until they reach that safe internal temperature.
#3 Avoid the Danger Zone
- Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. This temperature range is called the Danger Zone.
- Perishable foods, such as chicken wings, deli wraps and meatball appetizers, should be discarded if left out for longer than two hours. To prevent food waste, refrigerate or freeze perishable items within two hours.
- Keep cold foods at a temperature of 40 degrees F or below by keeping food nestled in ice bowls or refrigerated until ready to serve.
- Keep hot foods at a temperature of 140 degrees F or above by placing food in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes or slow cookers.
- Divide leftovers into small portions and refrigerate or freeze them in shallow containers, which helps leftovers cool quicker than storing them in large containers.
#4 Keep Takeout Food Safe
- If you order food and it’s delivered or picked up in advance of the big game, divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers and refrigerate until ready to reheat and serve. You can also keep the food warm (above 140 degrees F) in a preheated oven, warming tray, chafing dish or slow cooker.
- When reheating food containing meat or poultry, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F as measured by a food thermometer.
- If heating food in the microwave, ensure that contents are evenly dispersed. Because microwaved food can have cold spots, be sure to stir food evenly until the food has reached a safe internal temperature throughout.
A special word on salsa and guacamole:
“The reason that salsa and guacamole are so susceptible to contamination is that they are made with multiple raw, uncooked vegetables and are often stored at room temperature,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.
In addition to being left out for long periods of time, salsa and guacamole often contain diced raw produce including hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro, increasing their chance of carrying harmful bacteria.
Anyone preparing fresh salsa and guacamole at home should be aware that these foods contain raw ingredients and that they should be carefully prepared and refrigerated to help prevent illness.
To prevent bacteria growth, these side dishes should be refrigerated within two hours. Those serving these foods should be aware of the length of time they have been out at room temperature.
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