WASHINGTON, DC - An estimated 48 million Americans are tackled by foodborne illnesses each year, the United States Department of Agriculture encourages consumers to use safe food handling practices so you can make the game winning touchdown at your next party.

Americans will consume approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings while watching the big game. The game usually runs about three hours - that's a lot of time to go back to the buffet again and again. That's also the perfect time for bacteria to multiply rapidly if food is not handled properly.

It is important to keep foods out of the “Danger Zone,” which is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F.  When foods are left in the “Danger Zone,” bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to nearly 5 million during the game. Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.  

Sign Up for E-News

When serving food or ordering takeout food, use the following game plan:

  • If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140 °F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers. 
  • If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate.  At serving time, reheat to 165 °F. 
  • Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40 °F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice.  Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into. 
  • Start a game day tradition by using a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the “Danger Zone.”

To ensure home prepared chicken wings are safe, follow these tips:

  • Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken parts; however washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces. 
  • Ensure chicken wings are safe to eat by verifying they have reached an internal temperature of 165 °F.  Take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone. 

If you need food safety coaching, call your personal coaches at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. Learn more about key food safety practices at foodsafety.gov and on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety.