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Don’t Let Bacteria Score a Touchdown at Your Super Bowl Party

Super Bowl Infographic, "Four Steps to Food Safety". Click to enlarge.

Super Bowl Infographic, "Four Steps to Food Safety". Click to enlarge.

The Super Bowl is one of the most popular sporting events in the United States and the second largest food consumption day. This means there are many opportunities for Americans to come into contact with some nasty bacteria that can cause food poisoning.

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 48 million Americans will order takeout or delivery during the game. In 2014, the National Chicken Council estimated that 1.25 billion chicken wings were consumed Super Bowl weekend. To promote proper food handling, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is issuing safety recommendations to explain how you can keep your Super Bowl food both safe and delicious.

Hosts and guests need to have the proper defense in place to keep bacteria on the sideline and prevent foodborne illness from scoring a touchdown at their Super Bowl party.

Here are some important game day tips to ensure that the party remains free of the following food safety penalties.

Illegal Use of Hands
Unclean hands are a major infraction for hosts and guests alike. Before and after preparing, handling, or eating food, always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Use clean plates, dishes, and utensils to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.

To avoid this penalty, make sure raw meat and poultry do not come into contact with other foods. If they do, they can spread bacteria that cause food poisoning. Use separate plates and utensils for these items, and never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has first been washed in soap and warm water.

Personal Foul
Don’t risk the health of your guests by cooking meat and poultry improperly. Always use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. Color is never a reliable indicator of safety and doneness. For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures. The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and read after the manufacturer designated time.

  • Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to 145 °F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
  • Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to 160 °F.
  • Cook raw poultry to 165 °F.

Avoid this penalty by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold. Hot foods must have a heat source, and cold foods should be kept on ice to remain at a safe temperature and out of the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F where bacteria multiply rapidly.

Delay of Game
Practice effective clock management with your food. Perishable foods should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Switch out these items during half time to prevent the same foods from sitting out the whole game. Perishable foods left out longer than two hours should be discarded and replenished with fresh servings.

Food safety is the winning game plan for your Super Bowl Party. By following these tips, you can defend against foodborne illness.

2 Responses to “Don’t Let Bacteria Score a Touchdown at Your Super Bowl Party”

  1. Harry Gordee says:

    As long as internal temperatures reach recommended guidelines can I take meat, steaks, hamburger, chicken right out of the freezer and put it on a grill for cooking?
    This was a suggestion I received and I have tried it for all three of these items and it tastes great.
    My wife a micro biologist says she does not think it is safe. Your thoughts?

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @Harry Gordee – thanks for asking. Yes, but it will take 50% longer. It’s best to completely defrost meat and poultry before grilling so it cooks more evenly. However, uniformly thin meat, such as frozen hamburger patties, may be grilled frozen.

    Remember that outdoor grills can vary in heat. Use a food thermometer to check for safe cooking and doneness of meat, and take the temperature in several places to ensure even cooking. The safe internal temperature for whole cuts of meat is 145 °F followed by a three-minute rest time; for ground meats is 160 °F; and for all poultry is 165 °F.

    You can find the answer to this question and others at

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