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Here are tips on how not to fumble Super Bowl food

chicken wings and fries arranged around a container of creamy white sauce
Chicken wings are among the most popular food items for watching the Super Bowl

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Before deep-frying those wings and setting out that cheese platter this Super Bowl Sunday, make sure you’re winning the food safety game.

The big game draws a big crowd, many from the comfort of their own home, where people will set out food for guests.

So there are a few food safety rules to keep in mind.

  • Dietician says to avoid foodborne illness by cleaning, separating, cooking, and chilling
  • Don't leave food out for hours
  • Serve different dishes at different times

“We all want to serve delicious foods that people talk about for days afterward, but we also want to serve safe food and keep it safe," said Meredith McGrath said, a dietitian with Redner’s Markets, where food safety is a top priority and day-to-day routine.
“Many times during parties, especially when there is exciting entertainment like a football game, people like to ‘set and forget’ their food," McGrath said.

'However, if perishable food sits out too long and is not being held at the appropriate temperature [hot foods hot, cold foods cold], it can enter the ‘Danger Zone.’ The danger zone is when bacteria starts to grow rapidly."

To avoid that, she said, all foods should be stored properly within two hours of it being out.

'Clean, separate, cook and chill'

McGrath suggested that people follow basic food safety guidelines set forth by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Those guidelines say to clean, separate, cook and chill.

“Simply put, clean your hands and surfaces before and during food preparation, keep raw foods such as meat and eggs separate from other foods, cook foods to the correct internal temperature and refrigerate food promptly after serving,” McGrath said.

The group STOP Foodborne Illness, a national food safety non-profit, also is weighing in to make sure Super Bowl parties score points for food safety.

“If you are having folks over and you're serving hot food, don't put it all out at one time," STOP Foodborne Illness Chief Executive Officer Mitzi Baum said. "Use smaller serving dishes and keep the reserves in the oven or on the stove and keep that hot and replenish as needed.”

“We all want to serve delicious foods that people talk about for days afterwards, but we also want to serve safe food and keep it safe."
Meredith McGrath, Dietitian, Redner’s Markets

Different parts of game, different foods

Baum suggested using a different part of the game to set out different foods.

“There's a pregame and you can put items out then folks will know [to] turn their focus to the game," she said.

"And that's when you can put out snacks that it doesn't matter how long they stay out pretzels, chips, cheese curls and, you know, all those snack foods.

"And then at halftime, when everybody wants to watch commercials [and] get something to eat, you can put out fresh hot food at that point.”

Baum also reminded people to use utensils instead of their hands to serve food.

As a dietician who oversees a number of Redner's Markets, McGrath concluded by saying, “safe food handling is important whether you are feeding one person or 100 people.

"When the basic principles of food handling are not followed, the risk for contamination of food through foodborne pathogens increases, possibly resulting in a foodborne illness.”

Kickoff for the big game, in which the Philadelphia Eagles face the Kansas City Chiefs, is 6:30 P.M. Sunday.