Having a party to watch your favorite team on game day? Good friends – great food – sounds like a fun time right? Remember though, an essential part of party planning is food safety.
Make sure to follow food safety principles and procedures – so you and your friends can enjoy the game – rather than worrying about coming down with a foodborne illness.
Food Safety Tips
Food poisoning has lots of causes, including leaving food out too long. Food poisoning generally occurs when people eat food that contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, or toxins. Most cases are caused by common bacteria such as staphylococcus or E. coli.
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Follow these tips to avoid food poisoning:
Keep it Clean
- Wash your hands with soap and running water (warm or cold) for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, and handling food. Also wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets.
- Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
- Rinse produce under running water, including those with inedible skins and rinds. For firm-skin fruits and vegetables, rub by hand or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing.
Keep it Safe
- Divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in a refrigerator or freezer until the party begins. This encourages rapid, even cooling – and discourages pre-party nibblers.
- Make sure to keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold.
- Hold hot foods at 140°F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep food hot on the buffet table.
- Maintain cold foods, like salsa and guacamole, at 40°F or colder. Use small service trays or nest serving dishes in bowls of ice, replacing ice often.
Cook to the Correct Temperature
Use a food thermometer to test party favorites, like chicken wings and ground beef sliders, and any other meat or microwaved dishes on your menu.
- Make sure chicken wings (and any other poultry) reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and that any ground beef sliders or burgers reach 160°F.
- Microwave leftovers to 165°F to get rid of harmful bacteria.
Refer to the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart below for the “rest time” of meats—the period after cooking that some meats need to rest before serving to ensure that germs are killed. Note: Good news for your super-hungry guests: chicken wings and ground beef sliders don’t require rest times!
|Category||Food||Temperature (°F)||Rest Time|
|Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures||Beef, Pork, Veal, Lamb||160||None|
|Fresh Beef, Veal, Lamb||Steaks, roasts, chops||145||3 minutes|
|Poultry||Chicken & Turkey, whole||165||None|
|Poultry breasts, roasts||165||None|
|Poultry thighs, legs, wings||165||None|
|Duck & Goose||165||None|
|Stuffing (cooked alone or in bird)||165||None|
|Pork and Ham||Fresh pork||145||3 minutes|
|Fresh ham (raw)||145||3 minutes|
|Precooked ham (to reheat)||140||None|
|Eggs & Egg Dishes||Eggs||Cook until yolks and
white are firm
|Leftovers & Casseroles||Leftovers||165||None|
|Seafood||Fin Fish||145 or cook until flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.||None|
|Shrimp, lobster, and crabs||Cook until flesh is pearly and opaque.||None|
|Clams, oysters, and mussels||Cook until shells open during cooking.||None|
|Scallops||Cook until flesh is milky white or opaque and firm.||None|
Watch the Time
Track the time that food stays on the buffet. Sideline any perishable foods that have been out at room temperature for two hours or more.
- Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods like veggies when preparing, serving, or storing foods.
- Offer guests serving utensils and small plates to discourage them from eating directly from the bowls with dips and salsa.
- Discard any perishable foods on the buffet for two hours or more.
- Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate.
- Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. It’s OK to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate leftovers for three to four days at most. Freeze them if you won’t be eating the leftovers sooner.
- Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C) before serving.