Food & Drink

The Big Game: How to Keep Food From Sidelining Fans Once the Game Is Over

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WASHINGTON, DC – The long-awaited game of the year is here and whether or not your team will vie for the Lombardi Trophy, one thing holds true: There will be lots of cheers, some tears and a whole lot of food.

While enjoying some of the 1 billion chicken wings consumed on Super Bowl Sunday, the U.S. Agriculture Department's Food Safety and Inspection Service wants to remind fans not to let foodborne illness sideline them once the game is over.

“Millions of people get sick from food poisoning each year, with 128,000 being hospitalized,” said Paul Kiecker, acting USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service administrator. “Super Bowl parties present more opportunities for food poisoning because of large crowds and the length of the game. By following a few simple tips, you can keep your family and friends safe.”

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Follow USDA’s winning plays to combat foodborne illness at your Super Bowl party:

Clean Play

Wash your hands, but not those wings. According to the National Chicken Council, more than 1.3 billion chicken wings will be consumed this Super Bowl, but washing those wings is not recommended because bacteria in raw meat and poultry juices can splash and spread to and contaminate other foods, utensils and surfaces. Be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap before cooking, but keep the wings dry.

Play Defense

Don’t cross contaminate. When you are shopping at the grocery store keep raw meat, poultry, eggs and seafood in separate plastic bags to prevent their juices from dripping onto other foods. Always remember to use a separate cutting board for fresh fruits and vegetables and for raw meats.

Intercept Bacteria

Raw meat, poultry, seafood and egg products need to be cooked to the right internal temperature. Use a food thermometer to ensure foods have reached the correct temperature to kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.

Chicken wings are safe to eat when they have reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Before indulging, take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone.

Cool Play

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep food hot—140 degrees or higher—in a slow cooker or chafing dish, or keep half of the food on the table and the other in the oven and swap it out every hour. Keep cold foods cold—40 degrees or lower—by placing salads, dips and salsa in a tray of ice. Be sure to serve cold foods in small portions.

Avoid the Danger Zone

Don’t leave food sitting out. Most bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. That temperature range is known as the “Danger Zone.” 

Refrigerate food promptly. Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours.

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