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Tackle Foodborne Illness When Ordering Takeout or Delivered Foods

Posted by Communications Program Specialist Beverly Cazares, USDA-FSIS in Food and Nutrition Health and Safety
Feb 07, 2023
A platter of chicken wings, celery, snack mix and dipping sauce

The Super Bowl is the biggest and most anticipated sporting event of the year. Friends and families “huddle” and consume foods and snacks for the duration of the game while cheering for their favorite team. This iconic annual event is often celebrated by ordering takeout and delivered foods, which if left out too long, can cause foodborne illness.

Leaving food out at room temperature is a big food safety penalty. Bacteria that can cause foodborne illness will start to grow to dangerous levels in the range of temperatures between 40 F and 140 F when left out for over two hours or one hour if above 90 F. This range of temperatures is called the Danger Zone.

To avoid foodborne illness during the big game, follow this game plan:

  • Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. Cold foods should be kept under 40 F on the buffet table by nesting serving dishes of food in bowls of ice. Hot foods should be kept above 140 F. A preheated oven, chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers can be used to keep food hot.
  • Don’t serve all food at once. Use small platters and replace them often with fresh refrigerated platters of food, rather than adding fresh food to a serving dish already on the table. Hot foods should be reheated to 165 F as measured with a food thermometer. When reheating in the microwave, cover the food for even heating. Check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer, as some microwaved foods can have cold spots.

For more information, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or email to reach a food safety expert or chat live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.