Healthy, Safe, Super Bowl Snacking

USDA Providing Great Food Safety Tips

As excitement for this year’s Super Bowl, between the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, grows, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is encouraging consumers to use safe food handling practices, at a championship level, and avoid becoming one of the estimated 48 million Americans who gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year.

According to the USDA, each Super Bowl draws more than 100 million television viewers who consume approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings during game day parties. With an average National Football League game taking more than 3 hours to play, Americans will be mixing plenty of football watching with food during Super Bowl parties.

At these parties, it is vital to keep foods out of the “Danger Zone,” which is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F. When foods are left in the “Danger Zone,” bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours. Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.

When serving food or ordering takeout food, use the following game plan:

  • If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140 °F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers.
  • If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate. At serving time, reheat to 165 °F.
  • Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40 °F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice. Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into.
  • Start a game day tradition by using a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the “Danger Zone.”

To ensure home prepared chicken wings are safe, follow these tips:

  • Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken parts; however washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces.
  • Ensure chicken wings are safe to eat by verifying they have reached an internal temperature of 165 °F. Take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone.

If you need food safety coaching, call your personal coaches at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. Learn more about key food safety practices at foodsafety.gov and on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety.

In addition, snacks for your Super Bowl LI’s party table don’t have to come with a side of guilt. Here are some ideas for smart and healthful swaps:

  • Primizie makes thick-cut crispbreads in flavors like Gouda and garlic, and chile and lime; a gluten-free version is made from whole-grain organic amaranth, quinoa and sorghum. Use them to dip into freshly made guacamole or as part of a cheese platter.
  • A rich hummus wins over conventional cheesy dips. From Hope Foods come new versions like kale pesto (made with basil and hemp) and a Thai coconut curry (made with low-glycemic dried coconut). Surround with fresh veggies for a vibrant addition to the table.
  • If you’re counting calories, you’re probably avoiding pork rinds. San Francisco company 4505 Meats created chicharrones for those leaning toward a paleo/Primal, high-protein/low-carb lifestyle, for whom pork rinds are a perfectly respectable snack. They are made from antibiotic- and hormone-free meat sustainably sourced from small family farms. The result is a crunchy and light no-carb snack with just  80 calories a serving. Flavors include chili and salt, jalapeño cheddar and smokehouse.
  • Stick a few of these into the ice chest next to the beverages: Live Soda is a probiotic-rich drinks that replicate the taste of your favorite not-so-great-for-you drink: among them root beer, cola and Pure Doctor, for those who can’t kick the Dr Pepper habit. The drink doesn’t have the typically potent taste found in many kombucha beverages.

With all of this great advice, you will score and be a winning Super Bowl LI host!