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Don’t Let the End Zone Become the Danger Zone: Your Guide to Hosting a Penalty-Free Super Bowl Party

Posted by Meredith Carothers, Food Safety Education Intern, Food Safety and Inspection Service in Health and Safety
Jan 30, 2018
Football field, end goal. Word overlay: Penalty-free Super Bowl Party – Food Safety: How-to
Football field, end goal. Word overlay: Penalty-free Super Bowl Party – Food Safety: How-to.

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.
    • Keep all raw meat and poultry away from ready to eat foods while preparing and mixing items.
    • 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 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 the 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. Read more about the Danger Zone.

Scoring the Game-Winning Touchdown

The game is over, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose your food or your health! By following these tips at your Super Bowl party or gathering, you may be celebrating more than just a team victory. Overall, remember to keep an eye on party foods and their temperatures, even when you’re celebrating touchdowns.

Need more food safety information? Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (1-888-674-6854) Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or email or chat at

Category/Topic: Health and Safety