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Health & Wellness

Food safety tips for Super Bowl bashes

U.S. Department of Agriculture

If you plan to feast on finger foods this Sunday, you’re not alone. The Super Bowl will spur millions of viewing parties as guests share their favorite snacks, including an estimated 1.3 billion chicken wings.

But some experts warn that Game Day feasts can expose party-goers to food hazards.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is promoting a campaign aimed at making people aware of problems involving foodborne illnesses. Marianne Gravely, a Technical Information Specialist with the department, said the numbers are jolting.

“Every year about 48 million people get sick from foodborne illness, and since the SuperBowl is one of the biggest food events of the year, we want to make sure everybody knows how to handle their food safety,” Gravely told WBFO.

According to reports from the Centers for Disease and Prevention, foodborne illnesses trigger 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in a typical year.

Many of the incidents involve Salmonella, a malady that can be caused when some foods are not cooked to the proper internal temperature. A 2016 survey concluded that more than 40% of consumers do not use a food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of chicken parts, including wings.

Credit WBFO file photo

Gravely outlined a four-step process to promote food safety.

“They are clean, separate, cook, and chill,” she explained. “Clean means before you start preparing your food, wash your hands good with hot soapy water, you want to wash for 20 seconds to make sure they get good and clean and also remember to keep all your kitchen surfaces and utensils clean.”

Other steps include avoiding cross-contamination by separating foods, cooking food to safe internal temperatures and replenishing food every two hours. Super Bowl bashes often result in food being left on tables for long periods of time.

Gravely highlighted some resources that help people to avoid food hazards.

“We have a new app that you can use if you want to see how long foods can be kept in the refrigerator, freezer or pantry, it’s called the FoodKeeper app, it’s free you can download it to your iOS or android mobile devices," said Gravely.

Meanwhile, the Independent Health Foundation is reminding football fans that there are many healthy options for Super Bowl buffets. Experts encourage hosts to swap nachos for fresh cut veggies, cookies for fresh fruit and fatty meat for turker burgers or chicken sausages.

The Healthy Options website offers some Super Bowl recipes and tips for promoting healthy lifestyles.

Experts also encourage party hosts to station food tables in a room away from the television to discourage “mindless grazing.”