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News Releases
Susan Conley (301) 504-9605
Matt Baun (301) 504-0235

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2006 - As millions of Americans mark Super Bowl Sunday with friends and family, making it the second highest day of food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is offering some practical food safety tips to help prevent foodborne illnesses.

"While football has the 'two-minute' warning, the world of food safety has the 'two-hour' rule," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond. "One of the biggest food safety mistakes people tend to make during these types of gatherings is that they let perishable food items sit out for far too long."

Many Super Bowl parties will go on for several hours where the food will often be left at room temperature. Dr. Raymond noted that food that has been sitting out for more than two hours can easily allow bacteria to multiply and cause illness. In severe cases, foodborne illness can lead to hospitalization and even death.

Be wary of any foods—hot or cold—that have been left out for more than two hours—the so called "Danger Zone," or when food is between 40°F and 140°F. Perishable foods that are not served with a heating source (chafing dishes or slow cookers) or chilling source (nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice) should be discarded after remaining at room temperature for two hours.

USDA encourages anyone hosting or attending a Super Bowl party to learn more about the dangers associated with foodborne illness and review important food safety information from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. FSIS offers football fans the following food safety guide for the Big Game.

A FOOTBALL FAN'S GUIDE TO FOOD SAFETY

Personal Foul
In food safety, this penalty occurs when the health of your guests is placed in jeopardy because you fail to follow one or more of USDA's basic food safety messages. The following tips will help keep friends and family safe from foodborne illness:
  • Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate - Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods.
  • Cook - Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked.
  • Chill - Refrigerate or freeze promptly.

Illegal Use of Hands
In food safety, this occurs when Super Bowl party goers do not wash their hands before preparing or eating food. Unclean hands are one of the biggest culprits for spreading bacteria. Washing hands in warm, soapy water for at least 20 seconds will reduce the risk of foodborne illness.

False Start
A false start in food safety occurs when partially and undercooked food is served. The result in this respect may be a few days of stomach cramps and diarrhea but it could also lead to hospitalization and possibly even death. Color is NOT a reliable indicator. Meat, poultry and fish should be cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria such as E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella.

Cook fresh roast beef, veal and lamb to at least 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium doneness. Roast whole poultry to 180°F and poultry breasts to 170°F. Ground turkey and poultry should be cooked to 165°F. All other meat, fish and ground beef should be cooked to 160°F. The only way to be sure food is safely cooked is to use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature.

Intentional Grounding
In food safety, intentional grounding occurs when a guest at your Super Bowl party eats undercooked burgers or perishable food left out in the "Danger Zone" during the Pre-Game show and misses the entire second half of the game. E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea and dehydration. Other symptoms of foodborne illness from E. coli and other types of bacteria are high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. The very young, older adults and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. Ensuring food is safely cooked by using a food thermometer is your best defense against foodborne bacteria.

Chop Block
In food safety, this occurs when you chop raw veggies on the same cutting board that was used to cut up chicken and other raw meats. The juices from the raw meat can contain harmful bacteria that cross contaminates other foods. Use one cutting board for raw meat and poultry and one cutting board for veggies. If you use only one cutting board, then wash it in hot soapy water after preparing each food item.

Upon Further Review
In football, referees often use the instant replay to ensure they made the right call. You can also be sure that you are making the right call when it comes to food safety. One of the best resources to call is USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Recorded messages are available 24 hours a day. The Hotline is staffed with food safety experts who are available year-round, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. You can also find answers to your questions about food safety by using "Ask Karen," USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service's virtual representative. "Ask Karen" is a feature that allows you to ask food safety related questions 24 hours day, seven days a week. Visit "Ask Karen" at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/
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Last Modified May 31, 2013