This weekend, friends and families will gather for parties to watch the Big Game, and we want to be sure you and your guests are safe – including from foodborne illness.
Here are some tips to keep everyone focused on the game and the commercials and enjoying the delicious food:
Check for recalls. There are current recalls affecting soft cheeses sold in Arizona, including cotija, queso fresco, crema and other cheeses due to possible Listeria contamination. Check your fridge and do not consume anything that may be affected. Also check out our website for frequent food safety updates.
Clean. Proper hand washing is the easiest way to prevent food borne illnesses. Wash your hands before you prepare food and after handling raw meats. Use warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds. Dry your hands with a clean paper towel. Make sure you wash cutting boards and clean surfaces that may come in contact with the food you are preparing. Wash fruits and vegetables before you set them out. Finally, if you’ve been sick, please let someone else prepare the food.
Separate. Keep raw meats separate from ready-to-eat foods such as cut-up vegetables and fruits. Use separate utensils and cutting boards for these different kinds of foods. Provide individual utensils and small plates to discourage guests from eating right out of your serving dishes or double dipping.
Cook it well. Foods like chicken and meats need to be cooked to a safe internal temperature; use a food thermometer to be sure. Follow the instructions on the package when microwaving foods. Cook chicken to 165 degrees Fahrenheit ground beef and eggs to 155 F; and beef, pork and seafood to 145 F. If you haven’t used your thermometer in a long time, make sure it is working properly. Here’s a way to calibrate your thermometer.
Keep it hot / keep it cold. The Big Game can last four hours. If your guests arrive before kickoff, they could be with you for as long as six hours. Some food can be unsafe to eat if it’s sitting on the table for that long. If you cook before kickoff, you may want to set some of the food aside in your refrigerator and heat it up at halftime. Be careful with cold foods, too. Keep them over ice so they stay chilled below 41 F for the whole game.
Pack it up. Leftovers can make a nice snack over the next few days. When your guests are finished eating, cool down hot and warm food as soon as possible and store leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze for safekeeping. Throw away leftovers after seven days to prevent food borne illness.
For more information on safe food handling, cleaning tips and more, visit our website here.
Dr. Eugene Livar is the assistant director for public health preparedness at the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS). He has been part of the ADHS team since 2012.