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Food Safety Tips for Super Bowl Parties-Avoid Food Poisoning

Millions of Americans will settle down in front of the television on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 3, 2008 to cheer on their favorite team, making this the second highest day of food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offers some smart tips to help Super Bowl partygoers and hosts avoid committing their own food safety personal fouls.

While football has the two-minute warning, the food safety arena has the two-hour rule.  One of the biggest food safety mistakes people make during these types of gatherings is that they let perishable food items sit out for far too long.

The game and the party will go on for several hours, and food is often put out early for guests to munch on before and during the big game. Any foods hot or cold that have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours can easily allow bacteria to multiply and cause illness. When perishable foods are not kept on a heating source (chafing dish or slow cooker) or nestled in a chilling source (bowls of ice), they enter the Danger Zone between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria grow the most rapidly and should be thrown away after remaining at room temperature for more than two hours.

If you are hosting or preparing food for a Super Bowl party, then you are the head coach for this big event. As the head coach, you need a game plan and you call the plays. You can ensure your guests won’t end up with food poisoning by following USDA’s basic food safety messages.

Clean Avoid penalties for Illegal Use of Hands. In the every day game of food safety, this penalty occurs when you or your guests prepare or handle food without first washing your hands. Always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food, and don’t forget to also wash surfaces often.

Separate Avoid Encroachment and don’t jump offsides. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked foods. You’ll get a flag for encroachment in your kitchen if you cut raw veggies on the same cutting board that was used to cut chicken and other raw meats. The juices from raw meat can contain harmful bacteria that cross-contaminates other foods. Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and one cutting board for veggies. If you use only one cutting board, wash it with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

Cook Use a food thermometer to make sure your foods are in The Red Zone. You’ll be sure to score when you use a thermometer to ensure that the food you prepare is thoroughly cooked. Meat and poultry including chicken wings, sausages and hamburgers, should be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.

And remember, color is not a reliable indicator of doneness internal temperature is. Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked. Steaks should be cooked to 145 °F, ground beef should be cooked to 160 °F and all poultry should be cooked to 165 °F. Once your foods have reached The Red Zone for food safety, protect your team from the Danger Zone. Don’t leave foods sitting out for more than two hours at temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F. Chill Your defense for good Pass Protection.

In food safety, to ensure your guests continue to be food safe when they come back and blitz the table for seconds, refrigerate leftovers promptly. Your pass protection will block offensive bacteria from multiplying and running up the score. Refrigerate or freeze foods promptly. Keep cold food cold, the same rules of the Danger Zone apply for cold foods, too. If cold food has been sitting out for more than two hours, do not eat it.

(Courtesy USDA, Food Safety and Inspection Service)

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