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Your Winning Game Plan for Super Bowl Sunday Food

Posted by Laura Scott, USDA-FSIS Public Affairs Specialist in Health and Safety
Feb 02, 2021
Bowl of chicken wings, cup of hot sauce, carrot and celery sticks with parsley
What’s your game plan for Super Bowl Sunday food safety? Photo credit: Getty Images

Every coach has a winning game plan. What’s your plan for your Super Bowl eats? Strategizing now can help prevent foodborne illness in your household and reduce food waste later.

Pregame Show

Wash hands immediately before and after handling food. A recent USDA study showed that 99 percent of people don’t wash their hands correctly. To properly wash your hands, wet your hands with water, lather with soap and scrub for 20 seconds. Rinse your hands and dry with a clean towel or paper towel.

Stock up on shallow food containers and make sure you’ve got extra space for them in your refrigerator or freezer.

Foods should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. Know when you plan to serve the food and set a timer to remind yourself to start packing up leftovers.

Make sure you have a food thermometer to ensure that food reaches a safe internal temperature when you’re cooking and that leftovers reach 165 F when you reheat them.

If you plan on serving food throughout the game, make two portions of each dish. Serve one portion as the game starts and keep another portion in the refrigerator or oven to rotate out after half time.


Don’t mix players from different teams. Keep raw meat and poultry separate from other foods like fresh fruits and vegetables by using separate cutting boards and utensils. This will prevent cross-contamination of bacteria and keep your MVPs from getting food poisoning.

Don’t play dirty. Clean and sanitize all cooking surfaces and utensils, especially after handling raw meat. You’ll also need to wash your hands often throughout the game.

Make sure your players are warmed up enough to finish the game. The only way to be sure your chicken wings or any meat are cooked is with a food thermometer. Place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the wing, avoiding the bone. The thermometer should read 165 F.

Half Time

Half time is the perfect time to make sure your lineup of food and drinks are making the right plays (and not getting anyone sick).

Begin putting food away at the half time mark, especially if food has been sitting at room temperature since the beginning of the game. Pack leftovers in small portions in shallow containers and place the containers into the refrigerator or freezer immediately. Discard any food that has been out for more than two hours.

At half time you should also bring out the substitute players – those fresh portions of food that you’ve been keeping hot or cold. Your household will thank you for the fresh food, and for watching their blind side when it comes to food poisoning.

After the Game

Once again, pack any leftovers in small portions in shallow containers and place the containers into the refrigerator or freezer immediately. When you’re reheating leftovers, make sure they reach 165 F, as measured by a food thermometer.

USDA has food safety coaches ready to help you put on a winning party this Super Bowl Sunday. Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at (1-888-674-6854) Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, or email or chat at Ask USDA.

Category/Topic: Health and Safety