In a nutshell: With Super Bowl XLIII fast approaching, it is time to think about the most important element of your February 1 soiree. No, it is not the game; it is not the halftime show; it is not even the ads. IT’S THE FOOD!
Second only to Thanksgiving, Super Bowl Sunday represents the highest day of food consumption in the United States.
FDA press release (almost verbatim):
WASHINGTON – Jan. 22, 2009 – The history of the Super Bowl dates back to January 15, 1967, with the playing of Super Bowl I. An agreement between the National Football League (NFL) and its younger league, the American Football League (AFL), united the two leagues in 1970, marking the dawning of a new era in professional sports and the birth of the modern-day Super Bowl.
Super Bowl Sunday is often considered to be one of the biggest, if not “the” sporting event of the year.
In the game of football, players rely on multiple layers of protective padding and countless hours of training to ward off injury. Whether you are a party host or attendee, you must take action to ensure food safety.
In lieu of protective gear, the USDA offers four basic food safety messages to Be Food Safe and to prevent the incidence of foodborne illness.
Clean – Avoid penalties for Illegal Use of Hands. In the everyday 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 do not forget to also wash surfaces often.
Separate – Avoid Encroachment and do not jump offside. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from cooked foods. If you slice raw veggies on the same cutting board that was used to cut chicken and other raw meats, you will get a flag for encroachment. The juices from raw meat may 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 only have one cutting board, it should be thoroughly washed with hot soapy water before and after the preparation of each food item.
Cook – Ensure your foods are in The Red Zone by using a food thermometer. Your chances of scoring will greatly increase when you use a thermometer to make certain the prepared food items are safely 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 O157:H7.
And remember, color is not a reliable indicator of safety-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 of food safety, protect your team from the Danger Zone. Do not 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, keep cold foods cold and refrigerate leftovers promptly. Your pass protection will block offensive bacteria from multiplying and running up the score. The same rules of the Danger Zone apply for hot foods, too. If food has been sitting out for more than two hours, do not eat it.
Make the Right Call. In football, referees may rely on the feature of instant replay to review their rulings. One of the best resources available before kickoff is USDA’s virtual representative, Ask Karen, a feature that also allows you to ask food safety-related questions 24 hours a day. Visit Ask Karen at AskKaren.gov. If you prefer to review your strategy via phone, you may contact a food safety specialist with the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Recorded messages are available 24 hours a day and the Hotline is staffed with food safety experts, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time.