The Big Game is here once again! Each year, this football game brings fans, family, and friends together to cheer on their team and enjoy festive foods that score big on flavor and tradition. Did you know? U.S. households will eat an estimated 1.4 billion chicken wings on Sunday! Even if you are only there for the half-time show, you are bound to find something to crunch and munch. The surprise play you don’t want to watch? Any issues with food safety that can knock your event off the go-to list. Keep bacteria on the bench with some fresh tips and resources to ensure your party is positioned to win!
Make sure someone (adult) is home to get the delivery*, check temperatures (danger zone is 40 – 140 degrees/2 hours) and packaging to be sure nothing is tampered with or left at an unsafe temperature for any length of time.
*Notify the company if you suspect tampering or that perishable food was left out too long. Don’t eat the food, or even taste it to see if it is safe.
Cook, Serve or Save
Time your order and serve delivered prepared foods when you receive it. If you are not serving right away, follow storage directions and refrigerate or freeze items until you are ready to cook them.
Keeping best practices for winning at food safety every day in mind as you plan and set up your event. Check your food thermometer to be sure it is working or purchase a new one. Wash hands, counters, cutting boards and serving utensils. Repeat washing hands as different foods are handled or prepared. Have plastic bags and storage containers ready to use so putting foods away is easy and quick.
- Clean— When handling raw meat and poultry, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and clean and sanitize surfaces often with soap, water and a sanitizer.
- Separate— Don’t cross-contaminate. Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready-to-eat.
- Cook— Cook to proper internal temperatures, checking with a food thermometer.
- Chill— Refrigerate promptly and do not leave food out at room temperature for over two hours.
Set up the buffet so hot foods, like wings, can be kept hot, and cold foods, like deli wraps and salads, can be kept cold. Slow cookers and chafing dishes are good choices for the range of snacks and appetizers that may require heat to maintain enjoyment and safety. A tray with ice or ice packs is good for cool foods, unless your location is very warm. Consider keeping perishable foods out for two hours or less – then get them properly stored to minimize food waste.
The game is over, leftovers are packed away, and the kitchen/buffet is clean and ready for the next meal. Leftovers can be kept refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen up to 3 months. To serve safely, reheat to an internal temperature of 165 F.
Odds are you will share happy pictures (or sad, depending on which team won) of your party with friends and family via text and social media. Should anyone that attended let you know that they became ill after the event, next steps would be to ensure they get medical attention immediately and get some guidance from your local health agency. It can happen to anyone, even when best practices are strictly managed. You cannot see, taste, or smell harmful bacteria. Some guests, especially young children and those older than 65, may be more vulnerable to exposure. Reporting foodborne illness is critical to keeping food safe for everyone.
If you or a family member experience symptoms of a serious foodborne illness, seek medical attention and contact your local health agency.
The CDC public health gateway can help you locate your local health agency.
Questions? Try these toll-free federal food safety hotlines. For meat, poultry, or pasteurized egg products, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). For all other food products, call FDA’s Food and Cosmetic Information Center at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366).
Keep Your Food and Family Safe This Summer!After a long winter and cool spring, temperatures are finally warming up making everyone eager for outdoor picnics and barbecues. While these temperatures are ideal for that, they also provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. You can help prevent harmful bacteria from making your family sick by avoiding the “Danger Zone” and following the “Core Four”. The Danger Zone: temperature range between 40°F and 140°F
- Keep food out of this range as foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly to dangerous levels that can result in illness
- Always keep cold food COLD, at or below 40°F, in coolers or in containers with ice or frozen gel packs
- Keep hot foods HOT, at or above 140°F, on the grill or in insulated containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays or slow cookers
- Reheat foods to 165°F
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food
- Clean kitchen surfaces, dishes and utensils with hot water and soap
- Have one cutting board for produce and another one for meat, poultry and seafood
- Use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked foods
- Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before reusing
- Marinate in the refrigerator and not on the counter keeping raw meat/poultry separate from any veggies you might be using
- If you plan to reuse the marinade as a sauce be sure to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria or make extra to set aside before adding raw meat/poultry
- Cook: Cook to safe internal temperatures
- Use a food thermometer to ensure food is thoroughly cooked
- Whole cuts of meat (steaks, chops and roasts) – 145°F with a 3 minute rest time
- Ground beef, pork, lamb and veal- 160°F
- Poultry, including ground poultry- 165°F
- Fish – 145°F
- Leftovers – 165°F
- Refrigerate perishable food within one hour in hot weather (above 90°F) and within two hours if temperatures are below 90°F
- Place leftover foods in shallow containers for quick cooling