The 50th Super Bowl will be played next Sunday, February 7, 2016, and the USDA is offering tips to help you serve a safe buffet or meal during your party. Food safety has changed in the last 50 years, along with the game.
The most important change in food safety is that using a good, reliable food thermometer is the only way to make sure that meat, poultry, and egg products are cooked to safe temperatures. And research has shown that kitchen towels can be a source of cross-contamination, so either wash them frequently in the hot cycle of the washing machine, or use paper towels while you work in the kitchen (and don’t reuse those!).
The four basic tenets of food safety remain: Clean, Separate, Cook, & Chill. Always wash your hands well with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before preparing food, and use clean plates, dishes, and utensils to serve food.
Keep raw meat, eggs, and poultry separate and away from other foods, especially those that are served without cooking such as dips and crudités. Always use separate plates and utensils for raw meat items, and never put cooked food back onto the same plate that held the raw food.
Use a food thermometer to check the final internal temperature of the cooked foods you make. And learn how to use it properly. The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food, not touching bone, for the most accurate reading. Cook beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum temperature of 145°F. Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to 160°F. and Cook raw poultry to 165°F.
Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Avoid the danger zone between 40°F and 140°F where bacteria can quickly multiply. Use a heat source such as a slow cooker or heating tray to keep hot foods hot, and use ice-filled containers or special trays that are chilled to keep cold foods cold. Refrigerate leftovers within two hours out of refrigeration (1 hour if the air temperature is 90°F or higher), and throw away any foods that have been out longer than that.
And enjoy the game! We hope your team wins.