No matter what team you're cheering for, the Super Bowl is a long game, typically four hours not counting the pre- and post-portions. That's twice as long as it takes for bacteria to start multiplying in food that's been left at room temperature for too long. As the host of a viewing party, make sure you observe the two-hour rule so your guests don't remember your party for all the wrong reasons.
When it comes to food consumption, only Thanksgiving scores higher than Super Bowl Sunday. Typically, there's a variety of foods that need to be kept at different temperatures. The Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends serving cold dishes in a small bowl nestled in a larger one filled with ice, and using a hot plate for warm selections. Any food that's been sitting out unheated or unrefrigerated for two hours or more should be tossed out. Here are some other tips from the FSIS to ensure your party is a winner.
Keep it clean. Dirty hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria, and finger foods at parties are especially vulnerable. Cooks and guests should wash their hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food. Also, be sure to clean eating surfaces often, and wash serving platters before replenishing them.
Don't cross-contaminate. Think of your party fare as two different teams—uncooked versus ready-to-eat foods. The juices from raw meat may contain harmful bacteria that will cross-contaminate ready-to-eat food that would otherwise be fine. Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and another one for cutting veggies or foods that will not be cooked. If you use only one cutting board, wash it with hot soapy water between prepping each course.
Cook it correctly. Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked. Remember that internal temperature, not meat color, indicates doneness. Steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees F followed by a three minute rest time, ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees F, and all poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees F.
After the party, chill. Refrigerate or freeze leftovers promptly to prevent bacteria from multiplying. Divide large amounts of leftovers into smaller, shallow containers for quicker cooling. Don't pack the refrigerator—cool air should circulate so that the food cools down quickly. And, finally, when in doubt, throw it out.
For more on this year's Super Bowl, including the best televisions to watch it on, see our full coverage.
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