Americans will eat 1.42 billion chicken wings and 12.5 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday. Whether you are rooting for Kansas City or Tampa Bay, you can make sure everything in your "bowl" is super by following food safety steps.
• Keep it clean. Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after preparing food and before eating. Also, wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item. Wash or scrub fruits and vegetables under running water - even if you do not plan to eat the peel - so dirt and germs on the surface do not get inside when you cut.
• Cook it well. Cooking food to the right temperature kills harmful germs. Use a food thermometer to check meat, egg, and microwaved dishes on your menu. Make sure chicken wings and other poultry reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees. Ground beef and egg dishes should reach at least 160 degrees. Check the safe internal temperature for other foods. Follow cooking directions on the package when cooking frozen food in the microwave.
• Keep it safe. If preparing food in advance, divide cooked food into shallow containers to cool. Put the cooked food in a refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible - always within two hours of cooking; or one hour if the outdoor temperature is above 90 degrees. Keep hot foods at 140 degrees or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep food hot. Keep cold foods, like salsa and guacamole, at 40 degrees or colder. Use small service trays or nest serving dishes in bowls of ice. Getting takeout or delivery? Make sure to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
• Watch the time. Follow recommended cooking and standing times. Areas of the food that are not completely cooked (cold spots) can provide a hiding place for germs. Always follow directions for the standing time - the extra minutes food should rest to finish cooking. Keep track of how long food stays out for serving. Throw away any perishable foods that have been out at room temperature for two hours or more.
• Avoid mix-ups. Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods like veggies when preparing, serving, or storing foods. Use separate cutting boards, plates, and knives for produce and for raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Offer guests individual serving utensils and small plates to discourage them from eating dips and salsa directly from the bowls.
• Store and reheat leftovers the right way. Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate or freeze. Refrigerate leftover foods at 40 degrees or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. It's OK to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator. Refrigerate leftovers for three to four days at most. Freeze leftovers if you won't be eating them soon. Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees before serving.
Heather Winn is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service in Cherokee County.