Food fit for football

Super Bowl LIV is here which means it’s time for football, commercials and practicing food safety? Many are ready to dig into the various bowls and trays grub, but have they stopped to consider how long that food has been out or if it is the correct temperature? 

Photo Courtesy of the USDA.

“We recommend not leaving out the food more than a couple hours. It sounds a little short, like a short time frame, but to be safe,  you want to put everything away within two hours because that’s that’s considered the danger zone,” Argyris Magoulas, technical information specialist for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, said. 

Reports from the National Chicken Council (yes, that is a thing) report that Americans will consume more than 1.4 billion chicken wings on Super Bowl Sunday. There’s a good chance people aren’t checking their chicken wings and party sliders every few hours to ensure that they are at the appropriate temperature. 

“Foodborne illness, commonly known as food poisoning results  in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3000 deaths annually,” Magoulas said. 

To ensure that your Super Bowl food is safe, follow these basic steps encouraged by the United States Department of Agriculture: clean, separate, cool, chill. Clean by washing your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds (sing the Happy Birthday song twice). Separate the foods to avoid raw and cooked foods getting mixed together. Cook the food at the appropriate temperature and use a food thermometer or crock pot to ensure that the food stays warm. Lastly, chill the cold food by refrigerating or putting the food container over ice. 

“Yes, you can kill all the bacteria when you reheat the meat or your leftovers…both of them are perishables and bacteria grows. They can release toxins and these toxins you can’t cook off. They’re just little compounds that the bacteria releases and they can make you pretty much sick like the bacteria that made them,” said Magoulas. 

If you don’t want to watch the halftime show (because everyone seems to have some sort of complaint about it every year) or you find that the game is going on for longer than you anticipated and decide to slip into the kitchen for a snack, ask yourself, ‘Do I really want to increase the chances of me contracting a foodborne illness from the bacteria growing on my food?’ 

In a press release published by the USDA it mentions, “Don’t wash chicken wings, other poultry products or meats. Many people who wash or rinse meat and poultry do so out of habit or because it’s how their parents or grandparents taught them how to cook.” 

The USDA continued saying “USDA research found that washing or rinsing these items greatly increases the spread of germs. Doing so can increase the chances of cross-contamination by splashing bacteria onto kitchen surfaces and other food items being prepared.” 

So whether you’re cheering on the Kansas City Chiefs, the San Francisco 49ers, or Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, make sure you are practicing food safety so you can enjoy your queso and chips in peace.