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First Down Food Safety Tips for your Super Bowl Party

Posted by Donna Karlsons, Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), Food Safety Education Staff in Food and Nutrition Health and Safety
Jan 30, 2014

In order to win the game, the first downs have to keep coming without the penalties. Super Bowl Sunday will be a long day of first downs and a long day of eating! It’s the second highest day of food consumption in the U.S., and that means hosts and guests need to have their defense ready to keep foodborne illness from scoring on the party.

Super Bowl parties should be remembered for a great time and not the place where the food made you sick. We’re offering fans some important game day tips to keep the party free of food safety penalties.

Illegal use of hands

Before and after preparing or handling food, always wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. Unclean hands are a major food penalty for you and your guests. Use clean platters to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.

Pass Interference

Keep raw meats separate from other foods. To avoid a penalty here, make sure raw meats do not come in contact with other foods on the buffet. Never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has been first washed in hot, soapy water.

Personal Foul

Don’t cause a personal foul that’s risky to the health of your guests. Always use a food thermometer to make sure meat and poultry are cooked to the right temperature.  Color and texture are not indicators of doneness. Ground beef should be cooked to 160˚F, poultry should be cooked to 165˚F and steaks should reach 145˚F with a three-minute rest time.


Avoid this penalty by keeping hot food hot and cold food cold.  Do not keep food on the buffet at room temperature for more than two hours.  Hot foods need to have a hot source to keep them out of the Danger Zone.  Bacteria multiply rapidly between 40˚F – 140˚F.  The same rule applies for cold foods – they need to be nestled in ice to remain safe for guests.  If there is a delay of game and you didn’t practice effective clock management with the buffet, don’t eat or serve the food.  When in doubt, throw it out. Replenish it with fresh servings.

Food safety is the winning play for your Super Bowl party.  For more game rules, visit USDA’s virtual representative, “Ask Karen,” available at  Food safety experts are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET at the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Access food safety answers anytime from your mobile device at