What’s Your Food Safety Game Plan?


By Shawnte Loeri, Communications Associate, PFSE

It’s time for the big game! Millions of families will gather to watch the biggest sporting event of the year. And where there’s a Super Bowl viewing party, there’s also plenty of food!

Don’t invite germs to the party. Follow these food safety rules from our game-winning playbook:

Lead a good warm-up

Every safe meal begins with proper handwashing! You and your kitchen teammates should wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water. Also make sure your equipment — countertops, dishware and utensils — are washed and sanitized before using them to prepare, warm, cook or serve any foods.

Keep up the defense

Harmful bacteria can make you and your teammates sick. Don’t allow cross-contamination to ruin your gathering! Wash your hands after handling raw meat, flour and eggs. Keep all raw meat and poultry away from ready-to-eat foods and fresh produce while preparing and mixing items.

Avoid a false start

Make sure food items are properly cooked and heated to kill harmful bacteria that may try to tackle your guests. Use a food thermometer to ensure that all meat, poultry, and other cooked food items have been cooked to a safe internal temperature. Reheat previously cooked foods to a safe internal temperature of 165 °F before serving. 

Here are the recommended internal temperatures for some Super Bowl party favorites: burgers and sliders – 160 °F; chicken wings – 165 °F; chili and other reheated foods – 165 °F. Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating.

Watch the clock

After kickoff, partygoers will be focused on the game — or patiently waiting until the halftime show. Don’t let the play clock run out on your party foods! We recommend putting foods out in batches to ensure they aren’t sitting out longer than the two-hour time limit.

Take a timeout

Before halftime, 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 crockpots with your buffalo chicken dip or spinach and artichoke dip on the “warm” or “low” setting. Use a cold source (such as a bowl of ice), underneath cold foods, and check them throughout the party to make sure dips and cheeses are still cold.

Stop the clock

Bacteria love temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, which is called the “danger zone.” Harmful bacteria will grow rapidly if they are in this temperature environment for more than two hours. After foods have been sitting at room temperature for two hours, you have three safe play options: 1) place foods in the refrigerator; 2) change the cold sources; or 3) throw away the foods.

Score a touchdown

The game is over! Whether you’re celebrating a win or mourning a loss, make sure to complete your post-game activities. Pack any leftovers in shallow containers and put them in the fridge or freezer immediately. When you’re reheating leftovers, make sure they reach 165 °F as measured by a food thermometer.

Your household will thank you for serving delicious food and watching their “blind side” when it comes to preventing food poisoning. You’ll be a food safety champion by following these tips at your Super Bowl gathering!

Adapted from USDA’s blog “Your Guide to Hosting a Penalty-Free Super Bowl Party