Kick off your Super Bowl gathering with essential food safety precautions

This year’s Super Bowl will feature sophomore quarterback and former Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow and his Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Los Angeles Rams with nearly as many stars as the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Millions of Americans will watch Super Bowl LVI and snack on hot and cold dishes throughout the four-hour festivities.

The length of the event means tables across the country will have food at room temperature for hours, leaving them susceptible to bacteria growth. And as any football fan knows, the snacking doesn’t stop before the game.

“No matter who you support, foodborne illness is a dangerous adversary we face in the game,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Here are some food safety tips for USDA Super Bowl Sunday:

#1 Remember your four steps to food safety

  • To clean: Wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after handling food, especially raw meat and poultry. Wash hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before cooking, during preparation and serving. After cleaning surfaces that raw meat and poultry have touched, apply a commercial or homemade disinfectant solution (1 tablespoon of liquid bleach per gallon of water). Use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Separate: Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and ready-to-eat foods, such as raw vegetables and fruits.
  • to cook: Check that food is cooked to a safe internal temperature using a food thermometer.
  • Coldness: Refrigerate food promptly if not consumed immediately after cooking. Do not leave food at room temperature for more than two hours. Lay out portions of food and fill serving dishes instead of laying out all the food at the start of the game.

#2 Cook your food to a safe internal temperature

  • Using a food thermometer, be sure to reach a safe internal temperature when cooking: Meat (whole beef, pork and lamb) 145 degrees F with a 3 minute standing time after removing from the fire ; ground meats 160 degrees F; poultry (ground and whole) 165 degrees F; eggs 160 degrees F; fish and shellfish 145 degrees F; and leftovers and casseroles 165 degrees F.
  • If chicken wings are on the menu, use a food thermometer on multiple wings to gauge doneness of the entire batch. If one is below 165 F, continue cooking all the wings until they reach that safe internal temperature.

#3 Avoid the danger zone

  • Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. This temperature range is called the Dangerous zone.
  • Perishable foods, such as chicken wings, deli wraps, and meatball bites, should be discarded if left out for more than two hours. To avoid food waste, refrigerate or freeze perishables within two hours.
    • Keep cold foods at 40 degrees F or lower by keeping foods tucked away in ice bowls or in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
    • Keep hot foods at 140 degrees F or higher by placing food in a preheated oven, warming trays, warmers, or slow cookers.
  • Divide leftovers into small portions and refrigerate or freeze them in shallow containers, which helps leftovers cool faster than storing them in large containers.

#4 Protect takeaways

  • If you order food and it is delivered or picked up before the big game, divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place them in shallow containers and refrigerate until ready to heat and chill. to serve. You can also keep foods warm (above 140 degrees F) in a preheated oven, warming tray, chafing dish, or slow cooker.
  • When reheating foods containing meat or poultry, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, as measured by a food thermometer.
  • If you heat food in the microwave, make sure the contents are evenly dispersed. Since foods cooked in the microwave can have cold spots, be sure to stir the food evenly until it has reached a safe internal temperature.

A special word on salsa and guacamole:

“The reason salsa and guacamole are so susceptible to contamination is that they are made with several raw, uncooked vegetables and are often stored at room temperature,” according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Besides being left out for long periods, salsa and guacamole often contain diced raw produce, including hot peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro, which increases their risk of carrying harmful bacteria.

Anyone making fresh salsa and guacamole at home should know that these foods contain raw ingredients and must be carefully prepared and refrigerated to help prevent illness.

To prevent the growth of bacteria, these side dishes should be refrigerated within two hours. Those serving these foods should be aware of how long they have been at room temperature.

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Susan W. Lloyd