Georgia Department of Agriculture

Ag Commissioner Gary Black offers Super Bowl party food safety tips

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Whether you plan to root for the Packers or Steelers, chances are you will join millions of Americans this weekend in watching the 45th annual Super Bowl game.

Super Bowl Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption in the nation, second only to Thanksgiving. Agriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black offers tips to help both partygoers and hosts alike avoid ending up on the “injured reserve list.”

“Everyone loves a good Super Bowl party,” said the Commissioner. “But whether you’re hosting or attending, you want to make sure no one ends up making any ‘personal fouls’ when it comes to food safety.”

Here are several tips to help ensure food safety for everyone this weekend:

Clean: Avoid any “illegal use of hands” penalties. In the game of food safety, this penalty occurs if people prepare or handle food without washing their hands first. Food preparers should wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food – and don't forget to wash food preparation surfaces often.

Separate: Penalty flags could end up flying across your kitchen for “encroachment” if you cut raw veggies on the same cutting board as raw meats. Raw meat may contain harmful bacteria that can contaminate other foods. Use separate cutting boards or, if you’re only using one board, wash it with hot soapy water in between prepping different food items. The same is true for dishes; don’t use the same platter for bringing meat IN from the grill that you used to carry it OUT to the grill (unless you wash it between uses).

Cook: A food thermometer is your best piece of protective equipment. Use it to ensure foods are thoroughly cooked to proper temperatures; high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7. All poultry products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees; all pork to 160 degrees; beef, veal, and lamb steaks, roasts or chops to 145 degrees; and ground beef, veal or lamb to 160 degrees.

Two-Hour Rule: Football players have their “two-minute warning” out on the field. In food safety, there is a “two-hour rule.” One of the biggest food safety mistakes a person can make is to allow perishable items to sit out for too long. Please remember that even in colder weather, this rule still applies!

The game will last up to several hours and people often put food out early so it’s ready for everyone to munch on. Any foods (hot or cold) that have been sitting at room temperature for more than two hours could begin to grow bacteria and cause illness.

Make sure you keep your hot perishables in a chafing dish or slow cooker and your cold perishables in a bowl of ice, cooler or refrigerator. Rotate foods throughout your Super Bowl party to help keep everything at proper temperatures. If you don’t, your food might enter the “danger zone” (over 40 degrees and under 135 degrees), which is a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Freeze or refrigerate leftovers within two hours of originally setting them out to help block offensive bacteria from multiplying. Perishable foods should be thrown away after remaining at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Make the Right Call: Football referees use instant replay to ensure they make the right call. This Super Bowl Sunday, don’t let food safety pass you by and foul you out. Experts are on hand at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Meat and Poultry Hotline (1-888-674-6854) with recorded messages available outside business hours. Their food safety experts are on hand Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. Another great resource is "Ask Karen," an interactive question-and-answer feature on the USDA website.

Also check out the Georgia Department of Agriculture on Facebook for some fun Super Bowl recipe ideas submitted by local residents!

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