What’s Your Food Safety Game Plan?

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Don’t Let the End Zone Become the Danger Zone 

football-shaped meat, cheese and crackers appetizer

It’s time for the big game, which also means it’s time to host your friends for your annual Super Bowl party! And where there’s a Super Bowl viewing party, there’s also plenty of food. By following these food safety rules from our game-winning playbook, you’ll provide the best defense to avoid letting your teammates get sacked by foodborne illness this Super Bowl. You may also get voted as MVP for best Super Bowl party host!

  • Clean: Lead a Good Warm-Up
    Begin your party food prep by washing 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.
  • Separate: Keep Up the Defense
    Don’t allow a pass interference to contaminate your ready-to-eat foods.

º Keep all raw meat and poultry away from ready to eat foods while preparing and mixing items.

º Use clean and different utensils for each dish, and avoid using your own personal utensil to serve yourself foods from the buffet.

Cook: Avoid a False Start
Use a food thermometer to ensure that all meats, poultry and other cooked food items have been cooked to a safe internal temperature before serving. Any previously cooked foods being reheated must be reheated to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F, or steaming hot before serving. Making sure food items are properly heated and cooked will kill bacteria that may try to tackle your guests. Here are some recommended internal temperatures for some Super Bowl party favorites:

  • Chicken wings = 165°F
  • Burgers and sliders = 160°F
  • Chili and other reheated foods = 165°F

Chill: Watch the Clock
Once kickoff happens, partygoers and hosts are focused on the game (or patiently waiting until the halftime show); however, don’t let the play clock expire on those party foods, and consider putting foods out in batches to ensure they aren’t staying out longer than the two-hour time limit.

Before halftime, take a TIMEOUT. Check your food with a food thermometer to make sure hot foods are still hot and cold foods are still cold. Ensure that you’re keeping crockpots with your buffalo chicken dip or spinach and artichoke dip on the “warm” or “low” setting, always use a cold source (such as a bowl of ice), below cold foods and check throughout the party to make sure dips and cheeses are still cold.

Stop the Clock
After foods have been sitting at room temperature for 2 hours, either place foods in the refrigerator, change the cold sources or throw out foods you know have been sitting since pre-game coverage.

  • Bacteria love temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, and will grow rapidly if they are in this temperature environment for more than 2 hours. Don’t Fumble on Food Safety! 

Scoring the Game-Winning Touchdown
Whether you’re celebrating a win or mourning a loss, make sure to complete your post-game activities. Pack any leftovers in shallow containers and put them in the fridge or freezer immediately. When you’re reheating leftovers, make sure they reach 165 °F as measured by a food thermometer.
Your household will thank you for serving delicious food and watching their “blind side” when it comes to preventing food poisoning. You’ll be a food safety champion by following these tips at your Super Bowl gathering!

Post taken from: Partnership for Food Safety Education, and USDA’s blog “ Your Guide to Hosting a Penalty-Free Super Bowl Party”.

A Romantic Dinner… Delivered

Food Bag with a heart on it being deliveredWhen it comes to Valentine’s Day, couples may opt for a delicious delivered meal at home. Just a reminder to follow simple food handling steps to keep your delivered food safe:

Be Delivery Smart!
Food delivery, which includes meal kits, restaurant delivery and grocery delivery, is on the rise! As food delivery becomes more a part of your life, food safety remains important for you and your family!

  • Before ordering, take steps that will help ensure the food you want to enjoy stays safe.
    • Ask questions. Understand the delivery company’s safety standards and how they respond if food is delivered at an unsafe temperature or appears to have been tampered with. Ask!
    • Arrange for delivery when someone is at home so food can be refrigerated or stored quickly instead of being left outside until someone is at home.
    • Find a safe space for delivery if no one will be at home when food arrives. This space should be cool, shaded and secure from pests and rodents. Include this location in your order.
  • When your delivery driver hands off your food, they also hand you the responsibility of keeping your food safe.
    • Examine the box and packaging. When you get your delivery, look for stickers on perishable foods that say “Keep Refrigerated” or “Keep Frozen.”
    • Cook, Serve or Save. Enjoy your delivered prepared foods when they arrive. Cook raw foods, or refrigerate or freeze foods as soon as possible. Bacteria can multiply rapidly if food is kept in the “danger zone” between 40 °F and 140 °F for more than two hours.

Know your role!
As the way we receive food changes, the core food safety practices remain essential to protecting our health and the health of those we love.

Follow Three Simple Steps to Fulfill Your Role!

  1. Wash counters. Cleaning surfaces with hot, soapy water can reduce the spread of harmful bacteria in your kitchen. You can’t see, taste or smell the bacteria that cause food poisoning. These germs can make you sick if ingested, and they spread through contact with surfaces, utensils, and food.
  2. Wash hands. Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Wash your hands with clean, running water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  3. Cook, serve or save. When food is delivered, serve ready-to-eat foods immediately, cook raw foods you are ready to prepare now, and properly store foods you plan to eat later. Refrigerate or freeze any raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables that arrive in your grocery order within two hours. Food is safely cooked when it reaches a high enough internal temperature to kill the harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked foods.

Did You Know?

  • In observational research conducted by the USDA more than 94% of people did not properly clean or sanitize counters before or after meal prep.
    • Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food.
    • Consider using paper towels to clean up kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
    • After cleaning, you may sanitize surfaces as an extra precaution to kill germs. Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented liquid chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water. Apply to surfaces, and allow to stand for several minutes. Air dry or pat dry with fresh paper towels.
  • Studies have shown that hand washing can prevent 1 in 3 diarrhea-related illnesses and 1 in 5 respiratory infections. Yet, USDA observational data shows that before meal prep, only 5% of people wash hands correctly with soap.
  • A food thermometer is the only way to measure the internal temperature of cooked meat, poultry and egg dishes, and ensure that the food is cooked to a safe internal temperature. Bring sauces, soups and gravy to a boil when reheating. Heat other leftovers thoroughly to 165 °F.

Report Issues!

Reporting a foodborne illness is a critical part of keeping food safe for everyone.

  • Notify the company if you suspect tampering or that perishable food was left out too long. Don’t eat the food, or even taste it to see if it is safe.
  • If you or a family member experience symptoms of a serious foodborne illness, seek medical attention and contact your local health agency.

Post taken from: Partnership for Food Safety Education