What’s Your Game Plan for a Food-Safe Game Day?

Did you know that Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving? Most Super Bowl party menus will include game day essentials like chili, dips, chips and salsa, guacamole and chicken wings. In fact, it is estimated that more than 1.23 billion chicken wing portions will be consumed during Super Bowl weekend – that is billion with a capital “B”! Sadly, these football favorites are some of the biggest culprits when it comes to foodborne illness, also known as food poisoning.

As a home entertaining expert and TV chef I want to help America host a party with ease, but I also want them to be safe when preparing and serving food to their guests. Foodborne illness affects about 1 in 6 Americans (48 million people) each year, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and an estimated 3,000 deaths.

I’ve partnered with the Food Safe Families campaign, developed by USDA, FDA and CDC with the Ad Council, to raise awareness about the risks of foodborne illness and to educate consumers to take specific actions to reduce risk and develop safe habits. Food safety practices really should be a top priority when entertaining, particularly when you have a house full of guests who are excited about the big game. When you get caught up in the fun, even the best host can invite foodborne illness to the party unless a few simple rules for food safety are followed.

Thoroughly clean and wash all produce including produce you plan to peel, such as avocados. Separate raw meats and poultry from ready-to-eat foods like vegetables. Cook meat and poultry to their safe internal temperature and test with a meat thermometer. Chill cooked and prepared foods if you do not plan to consume them immediately.

For serving, follow the 40-140 rule to reduce the chance of making your guests ill. Keep cold foods chilled to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and hot foods heated to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or above. The two-hour rule is also in effect: food should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours, so have replacements ready at half time. Instead of using large serving bowls, serve chili, guacamole, salsa or dips in smaller containers, and offer serving spoons and small plates to reduce the opportunity for guests to eat directly from the bowls. Make several small containers in advance and keep them chilled in the refrigerator until you need them. This also helps eliminate contamination and waste.

If you have questions about preventing food poisoning and how to keep your family safe this Super Bowl Sunday, check out the free resources on FoodSafety.gov.  The online database, AskKaren, has answers to nearly 1,500 questions related to foodborne illness. You can also call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (ET) Monday through Friday. Both are available in English and Spanish.

Whoever you are rooting for, here’s to a safe and fabulous Super Bowl Sunday!

Martie Duncan was a finalist on Season 8 of Food Network Star. She produces a featured web series on MyRecipes.com and writes about food, recipes and entertaining for her own website, www.MartieKnowsParties.com.


Martie Duncan

About Martie Duncan

Martie is on Season 8 of Food Network Star! Representing the great state of Alabama and home cooks everywhere, Martie competed on Alton Brown's team for her own Food Network show. Martie was the only member of the cast who has never been to culinary school or worked in the food industry! Martie made it to the final four and America voted for the winner after the July 15th episode. While more votes came from Alabama than any other state, Martie's teammate Justin Warner was declared the winner during the season finale on July 22.

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