Question: We’re hosting a Super Bowl feast this weekend. Got any tips about how to do so safely?
Answer: You’re not alone. Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year, second only to Thanksgiving, according to the National Chicken Council.
There are several steps you can take to ensure that your guests enjoy the game and the delicious foods you’re serving while not walking away from the buffet with a nasty case of food poisoning. Because your question is very similar to another that was asked in a “Chow Line” column from January 2017, it’s best answered by reissuing that column here.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers several tips to help ensure that your guests have a good meal without the fear of food poisoning.
The first step is to wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, or handling food. Also, if you’re using a cutting board to prepare vegetables for your veggie tray, wash the cutting board and utensils with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. And make sure that you rinse fruits and vegetables—even those you plan to peel—under running water.
Now for the meats. The No. 1 food typically served during a Super Bowl party is chicken wings. In fact, 1.33 billion chicken wings are expected to be consumed Feb. 2 when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Kansas City Chiefs, the National Chicken Council says.
Make sure your guests don’t get a foodborne illness, such as salmonella poisoning, by ensuring you cook the wings—whether they are baked or fried—to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, recommends the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Use a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the wing for the most accurate reading. If you are preparing hamburgers using ground beef, make sure the internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees before serving.
Here are some tips for putting food on the buffet table:
– Keep hot foods at least 140 degrees or warmer using a chafing dish, a slow cooker, or warming trays.
– Keep cold foods at least 40 degrees or colder by using small service trays or serving dishes in bowls of ice, making sure to replace the ice often.
– Avoid double-dipping (George Costanza!) by providing your guests small plates so that they aren’t eating directly from the bowls containing your dips and salsa.
– Make sure you don’t keep any perishable food out on the buffet at room temperature for more than two hours. Cooked food left out longer than two hours can rapidly grow bacteria that will leave the food unsafe to eat, according to the CDC.
Food safety is also important after the party.
Leftovers (if you have any food remaining from your hungry guests) can be placed in a shallow container and stored in the refrigerator for no more than three to four days. If you don’t plan to eat them within that time frame, the CDC says you can freeze them. Leftover cooked meat or poultry can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.
Chow Line is a service of The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and its outreach and research arms, Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center. Send questions to Chow Line author Tracy Turner, 364 W. Lane Ave., Suite B120, Columbus, OH 43201, or firstname.lastname@example.org.