July 22, 2024


Than a Food Fitter

Avoid dropping the ball on Super Bowl food safety

3 min read

Noshing on food laid out for Super Bowl LVI shouldn’t make people sick — a food safety expert with the Agriculture Department has guidance.

Noshing on food laid out for Super Bowl LVI shouldn’t make people sick — a food safety expert with the Agriculture Department has guidance.

Have an instant-read thermometer handy?

“Even if it’s already cooked, you’re still looking to reheat leftovers to 165 degrees,” said Karen Hunter of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“You don’t always know how quickly something was cooled. So, for example, if you made a pot of chili on Saturday, and you’re planning to serve it on Sunday, you want to portion that into smaller portions so it cools down quickly. That goal being avoiding as much time as possible in the danger zone,” she said.

The danger zone where bacteria can thrive is between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees. Adhering to the two-hour rule for food safety when the big game lasts about four, it’s all about timing.

Never leave perishable food out for more than two hours, or looking ahead to summer, one hour if it’s exposed to temperatures above 90 degrees. When in doubt, throw it out unless you’re keeping it hot or cold.

Hot foods should be kept at or above 140 degrees.

“One thing that I think sometimes gets overlooked is a lot of your hot dips,” Hunter said. “Making sure that those dips do stay hot and above 140 degrees — a crock pot is a great option for keeping those warm.”

Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 degrees — even cut fruits and vegetables.

“Luckily, it’s very simple to keep those chilled. One of the easiest things to do is take a larger tray and put ice on it, and then set your platter or bowl of fruits or vegetables right on there. It’ll keep them nice and cool and at a safe temperature,” Hunter said.

Because chicken wings are such a popular Super Bowl food, Hunter has tips for cooking them:

  • Use a digital thermometer checking for 165 degrees.
  • Don’t let the probe touch the bone.
  • Insert probe in the thickest part of the wing.
  • Sample more than one out of the batch before pulling from heat.
  • Put them into a chafing dish or a crock pot to keep them warm.

Hot dishes can be stored in the oven set at 200 to 250 degrees before serving.

Millions of people every year get sick from food poisoning in the U.S., roughly 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.

“But it really is, relatively straightforward and simple to prevent, especially if you think about washing your hands and your surfaces. So (washing hands for) 20 seconds with soapy water — whether you’re a guest or a host — just really paying attention to that, that’s one of the first lines of defense and is really the most simple,” she said.

The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline answers questions Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 888-MPHotline (888-674-6854), or by chatting live at Ask USDA. People also can submit questions by emailing [email protected].

You can learn more about the four steps for food safety — clean, separate, cook and chill — on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

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