By: Keeba Smith
This Sunday, millions of Americans with gather together to watch the Big Game. It is a tradition where friends and family gather to watch the final two remaining teams in the NFL battle to see who will be crown the World Champions. A big game viewing party would not be complete without plenty of food and fun. Other than Thanksgiving, more food is consumed on this day than any other day of the year.
Before you attend or prepare to host a party of the magnitude, use these good food safety guidelines to make sure your party is a success and no one ends up feeling worse than the losing team.
- Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, or handling food. Hands should also be washed after using the restroom and touching pets. Hands are the most common carriers of foodborne illness. Washing hands significantly reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
- Wash cooking utensils, cutting boards and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
- Fruits and vegetables should be washed and scrubbed in running water so dirt and germs are not transferred from the outside to the inside. Even if you don’t plan to eat the peel, it should still be washed. That includes avocados used to make guacamole.
- Rinsing meat or poultry under running water results in splashing of water droplets onto other surfaces, kitchen utensils or food, causing contamination with harmful microorganisms.
- Keep raw meat and poultry away from cooked foods. Always placed cooked food on a clean plate or tray and not in something that previously held raw meats and poultry. Bacteria present in raw meat juice can cross-contaminate the cooked food.
- Use a food thermometer to ensure all meats, poultry and other foods items are cooked to a safe internal temperature before serving.
- Follow frozen food package instruction when cooking food in the microwave.
- Do not rely on sight to determine if food is ready. The outside is usually done before the inside.
- Burgers and sliders must be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°F.
- Chili and other reheated foods must be cooked to an internal temperature 165°F.
- Chicken wings should reach a final temperature of 165°F.
- It is recommended to take the temperature of several wings in a batch by placing the thermometer in the thickest part of the wing away from the bone. If even one wing is under the recommended temperature then continue cooking until correct temperature is reached.
- Divide cooked food into shallow containers if food is prepared in advance. Store it in the refrigerator or freezer until the party begins.
- Serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter and keep the rest of the food hot in the oven (set at 200-250°F) or cold in the refrigerator till serving time.
- Partygoers and host are usually focused on the game, commercials or patiently waiting for the halftime show. It is a good idea to put food out in batches which ensures they are not staying out longer than the two-hour recommended time limit.
- Make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
- Use a chafing dish for the wings and burgers.
- Use a crockpot for the chili, nachos and dips.
- Use a bowl of ice as a cold source below lunch meats, cheese, fruit salads and other salads.
- Replace empty platter with a fresh platter rather than placing fresh food on the empty one. Many people’s hands may have touch the platter while taking food from the dish and the platter has been sitting at room temperature for a while making it the perfect place to breed foodborne germs.
- Check to make sure the temperature of the hot foods is 140°F or higher and cold food is 40°F or lower.
- If they are not at proper temperature and it has been less than two hours, then try to reheat or rechill the food items.
- If it has been more than two hours, it is safer to discard the food items.
- Bacteria loves temperatures before 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F. They will breed and grow rapidly if they are at this temperature environment for more than two hours.
END OF THE GAME
- Make sure to keep food safety in mind when taking care of the leftovers.
- Refrigerate leftover food at 40°F or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation.
- It is recommended to divide foods into small portions, place in shallow containers and refrigerate within two hours after the party.
- It’s okay to place hot food directly into the refrigerator without cooling it down.
- Refrigerated leftovers must be eaten within three to four days. If leftovers are going to be kept past that time window then they should be labeled and placed in the freezer.
- Any perishable foods sitting on the counter at room temperature for longer than two hours should be discarded.
- Reheated leftovers should be heated to a temperature of at least 165°F before serving. This includes leftovers warmed up in the microwave.
PARTY THAT DOESN’T END
Your party may continue for a while after the game ends or it may come to an abrupt ending depending on the score and the winner. These parties are sometimes more notorious than the actual game. Make sure your party is epically remembered for all the good reasons and not the bad.
May the best team win! Enjoy those commercials!