Planning a Super Bowl Party? Here's How to Keep Your Food Safe

These food safety tips from the USDA will help.

super bowl food: wings and pigs in the blanket
Photo: mphillips007/Getty Images

If you're planning on hosting a Super Bowl party, you're going to need plenty of crowd-pleasing snacks, including dips, chicken wings, and sandwiches. However, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one's job as a Super Bowl party host doesn't end once the food is cooked or ordered.

In fact, it's important to remember a few key food safety tips if you plan to eat while watching the big game on Sunday. Keep reading for more USDA-approved guidance that will help keep you and your fellow Super Bowl fans safe on Sunday.

Why Super Bowl Food Goes Bad

"As families and friends safely gather to watch the big game, keep food safety in mind. No matter who you're rooting for, foodborne illness is a dangerous opponent we face during the game," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. "Millions of people get sick from food poisoning each year. Following guidance on keeping food at safe temperatures, proper handwashing, and avoiding cross-contamination will protect you and your party guests."

As the USDA points out, Super Bowl Sunday differs from other food-focused events, such as Thanksgiving, because the food sits out and typically isn't consumed within an hour or so. Though Super Bowl fans often snack on food throughout the game, the federal agency says that perishable items, such as chicken wings, deli wraps, and meatball appetizers, as well as cut fruit and vegetable platters, should only be left out for a maximum of two hours.

Once these foods hit the two-hour mark, there is a risk of bacteria multiplying to dangerous levels and potentially making people sick. To avoid any food-related illnesses, the USDA recommends party hosts put out small amounts of food at a time and replenish it frequently.

How to Keep Super Bowl Snacks Safe

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Take Precautions With Raw Meat and Poultry

As with any other day of the year, raw meat and poultry require some extra safety precautions. When handling raw chicken wings or hamburger meat, for example, make sure to wash your hands for 20 seconds before and after you touch it.

You should also clean any surfaces and utensils that have come into contact with raw meat and poultry with soap and warm water, and use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready-to-eat.

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Cook Chicken Wings to the Correct Temperature

Additionally, ensure that any meat and poultry dishes are cooked to a safe internal temperature by using a meat thermometer. And if you don't plan to consume the food shortly after it's cooked, promptly place it in the refrigerator to chill.

As Instacart revealed, Super Bowl Sunday is chicken wings' time to shine. If you plan to cook some wings to nibble on while you watch the game, use a meat thermometer to make sure that the wings are cooked to (at least) 165 F. To be extra safe, the USDA suggests using a thermometer on several wings to gauge the doneness of an entire batch.

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Be Careful With Perishable Foods

Not only should perishable foods be left out for no longer than two hours, but they must be kept at the correct temperature at all times.

  • Keep cold foods at a temperature of 40 F or below by keeping them nestled in ice or refrigerated until ready to be served.
  • Keep hot foods at a temperature of 140 F or above by placing them in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes, or slow cookers.

Additionally, the USDA recommends refrigerating or freezing perishable items within two hours. You can also divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate or freeze them in shallow containers, which helps them cool more quickly.

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Keep Takeout Food Safe

Just because you order takeout on Super Bowl Sunday doesn't mean the food safety rules go out the window. If your takeout is delivered ahead of time, store it in shallow containers in the refrigerator until you're ready to reheat it.

When reheating meat or poultry, make sure the internal temperature reaches 165 F. If you're using a microwave to reheat food, ensure that the contents are evenly dispersed, so everything gets reheated evenly.

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