Tackling Cross Contamination One Play at a Time
Blue cheese with buffalo wings and pepperoni on pizza are classic combinations, but nobody wants a side of bacteria with either.
Even if you clean your hands and surfaces thoroughly, raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs can still spread illness unless you keep them separate from ready to eat food. Don’t let cross contamination happen to your food this Super Bowl.
Here are some quick tips for every stage of your Super Bowl party preparation:
At the Grocery Store
Reusable bags may reduce waste, but they are not always food safe. The fabric or materials in reusable grocery bags can get contaminated with germs like Salmonella or E. coli from food. These germs could then cross-contaminate other food or items and make us sick. When using reusable grocery bags to pick up all your supplies for your Super Bowl party:
- Wash your reusable grocery bags often
- Always put raw meats into a disposable plastic bag before putting them in a reusable bag
- Keep meats, fresh produce, and ready-to-eat foods separated
- Store reusable bags at home in a cool, dry place, not in the car
- Do not use reusable grocery bags for other purposes
Some bacteria can survive and even grow in cool environments like the refrigerator (or Super Bowl XLVIII weather). In fact, Listeria monocytogenes grows at temperatures as low as 35.6 °F! In your refrigerator, keep fresh fruits and vegetables separate from raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Clean your refrigerator regularly with warm water and soap. You can also reduce your risk of cross-contamination by cleaning up spills immediately.
Unclean hands are a major penalty for both the home and visiting team. Before preparing and eating food, always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds. Use clean plates, dishes, and utensils to serve and restock food.
Many cooks think they can finish their cooking play in the kitchen by checking the color and texture of meat or poultry. The only way to safely know if cooking is over and food is ready to eat is by using a food thermometer. USDA recommends the following minimum internal temperatures for safety:
- Raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to 145 °F with a three minute rest time.
- Raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to 160 °F.
- Poultry to 165 °F.
At the Party
To escape a delay of game, use effective clock management with your food. Perishable foods should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Switch out these items during half time to prevent the same foods from sitting out the whole game.
Remember it’s not just double dipping you need to worry about at the Super Bowl party. Avoid a false start by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Food should remain at a safe temperature and out of the “Danger Zone.” The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly.