Thursday, February 01, 2018

Don’t let the end zone become the danger zone: How to host a penalty-free Super Bowl party

Today’s guest post is by Meredith Carothers, food safety education intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

It’s almost time for the big game, which means it’s time to get ready to host your friends for your annual Super Bowl party! And where there’s a Super Bowl viewing party, there’s also plenty of food.

By following these food safety rules from our game-winning playbook, you’ll provide the best defense to avoid letting your teammates get sacked by foodborne illness this Super Bowl. You may also get voted as MVP for best Super Bowl party host!

1. Cook: Avoid a false start — Use a food thermometer to ensure that all meats, poultry and other cooked food items have been cooked to a safe internal temperature before serving. Any previously cooked foods must be reheated to a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F, or steaming hot, before serving.

Making sure food items are properly heated and cooked will kill bacteria that may try to tackle your guests. Here are the recommended internal temperatures for some Super Bowl party favorites:
  • Chicken wings: 165 degrees F
  • Burgers and sliders: 160 degrees F
  • Chili and other reheated foods: 165 degrees F
2. Chill: Watch the clock — Once kickoff happens, partygoers and hosts are focused on the game, or patiently waiting until the halftime show). However, don’t let the play clock expire on those party foods, and consider putting foods out in batches to ensure they aren’t staying out longer than the two-hour time limit.

Before halftime, take a timeout. Check your food with a food thermometer to make sure hot foods are still hot and cold foods are still cold. Ensure that you’re keeping slow cookers with your buffalo chicken dip or spinach and artichoke dip on the “warm” or “low” setting. Always use a cold source, such as a bowl of ice, below cold foods and check throughout the party to make sure dips and cheeses are still cold.

3. Stop the clock — After foods have been sitting at room temperature for two hours, either place them in the refrigerator, change the cold sources or throw out foods you know have been sitting since pre-game coverage.

Bacteria love temperatures between 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F, and will grow rapidly if they are in this temperature environment for more than two hours. Read more about this “danger zone.”

4. Scoring the game-winning touchdown — The game is over, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your food or your health! By following these tips at your Super Bowl party or gathering, you may be celebrating more than just a team victory.

Overall, remember to keep an eye on party foods and their temperatures, even when you’re celebrating touchdowns.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern time. Or email or chat at

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