Be the Food Safety MVP on Super Bowl Sunday

February 1, 2018
Meredith Carothers, MPH

Meredith Carothers is a Food Safety Education Intern at the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

It’s time for the Super Bowl, so you may be hosting a big party or going to one. And where there’s a Super Bowl viewing party, there’s also plenty of food. No one wants to get a foodborne illness from a party, especially if they have cancer.share on twitter Be a food safety MVP by following these rules to make sure no one gets sick during or after the big game.

Defense wins games

  • Before you prepare any food, start by washing your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Wash and sanitize dishware and utensils before using them to prepare, warm, cook, or serve any foods.

  • To avoid cross-contamination, keep all raw meat and poultry away from ready-to-eat foods while preparing and mixing items.

  • Use clean and different utensils for each dish.

Avoid false starts

Use a food thermometer to make sure that all meats, poultry, and other cooked foods have reached a safe internal temperature before serving. Making sure food items are properly heated and cooked will kill bacteria that can make you ill. If you are reheating previously cooked foods, heat them to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Here are the recommended internal temperatures for classic Super Bowl favorites:

  • Chicken wings — 165°F (74°C)

  • Burgers and sliders — 160°F (71°C)

  • Chili and other reheated foods — 165°F (74°C)

Manage the clock

After the kickoff, partygoers and hosts are focused on the game, but remember to keep an eye on party foods that have been sitting out. Foods that have been sitting at room temperature for 2 hours are at risk of entering the Danger Zone, which is when internal temperatures are between 40°F and 140°F (4°C to 60°C). Bacteria love the Danger Zone and will grow rapidly in that temperature environment. Here are some strategies to keep your foods safe:

  • Consider putting foods out in batches instead of all at the same time.

  • Always use a cold source (such as a bowl of ice) for chilled and cold foods. Regularly check them to make sure they are still cold.

  • Ensure that you’re keeping crockpots on the “warm” or “low” setting to keep heated foods warm.

  • Throw out foods that have been sitting for more than 2 hours.

  • Before halftime, check all your food with a food thermometer to make sure hot foods are still hot and cold foods are still cold.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or email You can also chat live with a USDA food safety specialist at AskUSDA, available from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.

Four Steps to Food Safety
Click to Enlarge

Four Steps to Food Safety

Food poisoning sickens 1 in 6 people annually, and the big game is a big time for food. Make food safety a big priority on game day.

  1. Clean: When preparing party food, wash hands and surfaces often
  2. Separate: Use separate plates for raw and cooked food when grilling
  3. Cook: Cook food to the right temperature
  4. Chill: Don't leave food at room temperature for longer than 2 hours.

Presented by: Ad Council, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Agriculture


Share your thoughts on this blog post on Cancer.Net's Facebook and Twitter.