Safely serving friends and family during the big game is a win for everyone; don’t fumble it this Super Bowl Sunday. February 11 kicks off Super Bowl LVIII, and football fans will be huddling up to watch the big game while enjoying their favorite foods. Whether you’re ordering delivery, or preparing and serving food to guests, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has some gameday plans to keep your Super Bowl from being intercepted by foodborne illness.

“Super Bowl parties are a fun time for people to unwind and enjoy the big game, but food safety must remain a top priority,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Emilio Esteban. “Simple steps like not leaving food out at room temperature for more than two hours or keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold can help keep your friends and family safe.”

Follow these USDA tips to avoid getting caught offside with food safety this Super Bowl Sunday.

Deliveries and Takeout Foods

If you’re ordering takeout earlier in the day before the big game, make sure someone is there to get the food in a timely manner. Place any food that is not being eaten immediately in the refrigerator. When storing leftovers, divide them into smaller portions and place them into small, shallow containers. Perishable foods that have been sitting out at room temperature must be eaten within two hours after being cooked.

Stay in the In Zone, not the Danger Zone

If you’re serving food to groups, follow the two-hour rule. When perishable foods sit in the Danger Zone (temperatures between 40 F and 140 F) for more than two hours, bacteria can multiply rapidly. Meat and poultry must be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of sitting out on a counter in the Danger Zone. If you want to enjoy the big game and serve food longer than two hours, keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Hot foods must be kept at 140 F or above by using warming trays, chafing dishes, or a slow cooker. Cold foods must be kept at 40 F or below. To keep them cold, serve them in smaller portions and refill them, or place the food in containers and nestle them in ice.

Don’t Let Leftovers Sit on the Sidelines

Your Super Bowl leftovers will be safe for three to four days in the refrigerator. Reheat leftovers to the safe internal temperature of 165 F as measured with a food thermometer. Reheat liquid foods like soups and sauces to a boil. Tasting food to determine its safety is dangerous. When in doubt, throw it out!

Always Remember the Four Steps to Food Safety

  • Clean—Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before, during, and after meal preparation. Clean and sanitize surfaces often with soap, water and a sanitizer. In a recent USDA study, 96% of handwashing attempts failed due to missing all the necessary steps.
  • Separate—Use separate cutting boards: one for raw meat and poultry and another for fruits and vegetables. Keep raw foods separate from ready-to-eat foods and utensils.
  • Cook—Cook meat and poultry products to a safe internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill—Place foods that are no longer being eaten back into the refrigerator or freezer within two hours of sitting out at room temperature.

If you have food safety questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), email [email protected] or chat live at www.ask.usda.gov 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

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Read the entire press release from USDA here.