Planning a Super Bowl Sunday Party? Keep Your Food Safe With These Tips From the USDA

Watch those wings!

super bowl food: wings and pigs in the blanket
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If you're planning on hosting a Super Bowl party, you're going to need plenty of dips, chicken wings, sandwiches, and more. However, per a recent announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one's job as Super Bowl party host doesn't end once the food is cooked or ordered. In fact, as with many other special occasions, it's important to remember a few key food safety tips if you plan to eat while watching the big game on Sunday.

"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 typically isn't consumed within an hour or so, meaning people need to be extra vigilant with regards to food safety in order to stay healthy. 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 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.

Keep reading for more USDA-approved tips that will help keep you and your fellow Super Bowl fans safe on Sunday.

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Take extra 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.

RELATED: Following This Meat Temperature Safety Guide Is One of the Best Ways to Avoid Food Poisoning

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.

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Cook chicken wings to the correct temperature

As Instacart recently 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 degrees. 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 degrees or below by keeping it nestled in ice or refrigerated until it's ready to be served, and keep hot foods at a temperature of 140 degrees or above by placing it in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes, or slow cookers.

RELATED: How Often You Should Clean Out Your Refrigerator—Plus Expert Tips on How to Do It Right

Additionally, to prevent food waste, 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 quicker.

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Don't forget about keeping 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 degrees. 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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