The one thing — beside the excitement over the commercials — that unites football fans on Super Bowl Sunday is the food. And, oh my, there is a lot of great game day food out there!
Whether you’re eating one of the more than 1 billion chicken wings that’ll be consumed this weekend, or choosing from an array of chips and dip, or something else entirely, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service offers up these winning ideas to protect yourself from foodborne illness.
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 other foods, utensils and surfaces, contaminating them. Be sure to wash your hands with warm water and soap before cooking, but keep the wings dry.
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.
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.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Keep food hot (at 140°F or above) 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 (at 40°F or below) by placing salads, dips and salsa in a tray of ice. When setting food out, be sure to serve cold foods in small portions.
Avoid the danger zone
Don’t leave food sitting out. Most bacteria grow rapidly at temperature between 40 degrees 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.