In order to win the game, the first downs have to keep coming without the penalties. Super Bowl Sunday will be a long day of first downs and a long day of eating! It’s the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S., and that means hosts and guests need to have their defense ready to keep foodborne illness from scoring on the party.
Super Bowl parties should be remembered for a great time and not the place where the food made you sick. We’re offering fans some important game day tips to keep the party free of food safety penalties.
Illegal use of hands
Before and after preparing or handling food, always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Unclean hands are a major food penalty for you and your guests. Use clean platters to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.
Keep raw meats separate from other foods. To avoid a penalty here, make sure raw meats do not come in contact with other foods on the buffet. Never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has been first washed in hot, soapy water.
Don’t cause a personal foul that’s risky to the health of your guests. Always use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked to the right temperature. Color and texture are not indicators of doneness. Ground beef should be cooked to 160˚F, poultry should be cooked to 165˚F and steaks should reach a 145˚F with a three-minute rest time.
Avoid this penalty by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Do not keep food on the buffet at room temperature for more than two hours. Hot foods need to have a hot source to keep them out of the Danger Zone. Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40˚F – 140˚F. The same rule applies for cold foods – they need to be nestled in ice to remain safe for guests. If there is a delay of game and you didn’t practice effective clock management with the buffet, don’t eat or serve the food. When in doubt, throw it out. Replenish it with fresh servings.
Food safety is the winning play for your Super Bowl party. For more game rules, visit USDA’s virtual representative, “Ask Karen,” available at AskKaren.gov. Food safety experts are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET at the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).
At the start of a new year many people think about what needs to be changed to make their lives happier and healthier and resolve to make the changes. Some changes people settle on are so big and difficult, like losing 40 lbs. or training for a marathon, that they’re forgotten in the press of work, family responsibilities, etc. But a resolution to take the small, simple steps to be food safe in the new year isn’t thSo, here are a few suggestions for resolutions to help eliminate foodborne illness from your and your families’ lives.
Clean: Resolve to wash your hands before, during and after handling food. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, handwashing has the potential to save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. To do it effectively, wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold) and apply soap. Rub your hands together to make a lather and scrub them well for at least 20 seconds. Air dry or use a clean paper towel.
Separate: If you only have one cutting board, resolve to get another to help avoid pathogens from one food migrating to another, or cross-contamination. Use one for foods that will be cooked, such as meat, poultry, and seafood, and the other for foods like fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw. That way the raw foods won’t be contaminated by the juices from the ones to be cooked. If you do get a new cutting board, get one that’s dishwasher-safe. The very hot water and strong detergent typically used in dishwashers can eliminate a lot of bacteria.
Cook: Only a food thermometer can make sure meat, poultry, fish and casseroles are cooked to a safe internal temperature—hot enough to kill any pathogens that may be present.
Chill: Similarly, resolve to get an appliance thermometer to be sure your refrigerator is at or below 40ºF. Between 40ºF and 140ºF is the Danger Zone when bacteria multiply rapidly. The more bacteria, the more likely someone will get sick. Most refrigerators have just a colder/warmer adjustment, so the only way to know the temperature is to put a thermometer inside. And it’s a good idea to put one in the freezer to be sure the temperature is 0ºF or below.
For more information, check out these resources:
- Long-Term Effects of Food Poisoning
- Types of Food Thermometers
- Separate, Don’t Cross-Contaminate
- Making Food Safer to Eat
Flicker, flicker, flicker—dark! The lights have just gone off, and the search for candles and matches has begun. But even if you can see by candlepower, there are other dangers lurking in the dark that you can’t see: bacteria that will begin growing in perishable foods when the electricity is off.
During the winter, severe ice and snow storms play havoc with outdoor utility lines, and storing food safely becomes a challenge if the power goes off. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends these steps to follow before and during a power outage.
Prepare Ahead of Time
- Appliance thermometers. Make sure you keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer. That’s the best way to be sure that your food is safe after a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 °F or lower in the refrigerator; 0°F or lower in the freezer.
- Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers. They are small enough to fit in around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold and won’t make a mess when the ice melts. Don’t fill them too full. Because water expands when it freezes, the bags might split. Make extra ice at home.
- Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. This helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Dry ice or block ice. Know where you can get them.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
- Group foods together in the freezer; this helps the food stay cold longer. They form an “igloo” to protect each other.
- Don’t put food outdoors in ice or snow because wild animals may be looking for a meal, and when the sun comes out it may warm your food to an unsafe temperature.
- Stock up on ready-to-eat foods. Be sure to have a few days’ of foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
When the Power Goes Out
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed.
- A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
- Place frozen meat and poultry on a tray so that if they begin thawing, their juices will not drip on other foods.
- Buy dry or block ice if the power is going to be out for a long time. Ice will keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
When Power Comes Back On
- Check the temperature inside your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, or leftovers) that has been above 40 °F for two hours or more.
- Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to the touch.
- Check for ice crystals in frozen food. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is at 40 °F or below.
- Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
- When in doubt, throw it out.
See these charts to help you evaluate specific foods
- Refrigerated Foods: When to Save and When to Throw Out
- Frozen Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out
For more information about food safety in an emergency, check out these resources:
- A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes (USDA)
- Video Link: Food Safety During a Power Outage
- In an Emergency (FoodSafety.gov)
Questions? Ask Karen, USDA’s virtual food safety representative, is available 24/7 at AskKaren.gov. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. ET at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)