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Super Bowl LIV Toolkit to Prevent Foodborne Illness: Talking Points

Background

  • The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (www.fsis.usda.gov) is the public health regulatory agency in USDA responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and processed egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled.
  • Food poisoning is a serious public health threat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that foodborne illness results in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the United States annually.
  • FSIS works hard to make sure the food consumers bring home is safe, but there is always a chance that someone could contract foodborne illnesses, commonly known as food poisoning. This Super Bowl, USDA is helping consumers learn how to protect themselves with the four steps to food safety – Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill.

Four Steps to Food Safety:

  • Clean: Clean hands, surfaces and utensils with soap and warm water before cooking. Wash hands for 20 seconds before and after handling raw meat and poultry. After cleaning surfaces raw poultry has touched, also apply a sanitizer.
  • Separate: Use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to avoid cross-contamination between raw meat or poultry and foods that are ready to eat.
  • Cook: Confirm foods are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature by using a food thermometer.
  • Chill: Chill foods promptly if not consuming immediately after cooking. Do not leave food at room temperature for longer than two hours.

Super Bowl Hosting Tips

According to a 2019 National Retail Federation survey, approximately 44 million people hosted game day parties last year. They also estimated that approximately 61 million people attended a Super Bowl party during the same time frame. Whether hosting or attending a party, ensure you or your host follows these tips to keep food safe:

  • Always use a food thermometer to cook meat and poultry to a safe minimum internal temperature. Color is never a reliable indicator of safety and doneness.
    • Cook raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to 145 °F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 °F.
    • Cook raw poultry to 165 °F.
    • To correctly take the temperature of burgers, insert the food thermometer through the side of the patty, until the probe reaches the center to detect cold spots. The thermometer should read 160 °F.
    • For chicken wings, place the food thermometer in the thickest part of the wing, avoiding the bone. The thermometer should read 165 °F.
    • Take the temperature of several wings to gauge the doneness of the entire batch. If one wing is under 165 °F, continue cooking all the wings until they all reach the proper internal temperature.
    • DO NOT test the temperature while the wings are submerged in oil. This will lead to an inaccurate temperature reading.
       
  • When serving food at your Super Bowl party, it’s important to remember to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
    • Keep hot foods at an internal temperature of 140 °F or above by placing food in a preheated oven, warming trays, chafing dishes or slow cookers. 
    • Keep cold foods at an internal temperature of 40 °F or below by keeping food on ice or refrigerated until ready to serve. 
  • To keep takeout food safe, follow these tips:
    • If you order food and it’s delivered or picked up in advance of the big game, divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers and refrigerate until ready to reheat and serve. You can also keep the food warm in a preheated oven, warming tray, chafing dish or slow cooker.
    • When reheating food containing meat or poultry, make sure the internal temperature is 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer.
    • It is not recommended to use a slow cooker or chafing dish to reheat food. These are safe to use to keep hot foods hot, once the product has reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
    • If heating food in the microwave, ensure that contents are evenly dispersed. Because microwaved food can have cold spots, be sure to stir food evenly until the food has reached a safe internal temperature throughout.
    • Even if you know the wattage of your appliance, it is still recommended to check the temperature of your food with a food thermometer.
  • Follow the two-hour rule: bacteria grow rapidly between 40 °F and 140 °F. That temperature range is what is known as the Danger Zone! Perishable foods such as chicken wings, pizza and chili left at room temperature longer than two hours should be discarded.
    • Dividing leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerating or freezing them in shallow containers helps cool leftovers more quickly than storing them in large containers.
    • Quicker cooling helps prevent foods from entering the danger zone. Recent USDA research found that only half of study participants reported they refrigerate large amounts of leftovers in multiple small containers.
  • Bacteria builds up on kitchen towels after multiple uses. To minimize bacteria from lingering, you should wash your kitchen towels frequently in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
    • Keep multiple clean towels in your cabinet so you can easily grab a clean one when your current towel is overused and potentially contaminated.
    • Poorly washed hands can transfer bacteria to your kitchen towels. The bacteria on them can then contaminate any surface they touch. You should wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds.
    • Using paper towels is an alternative to kitchen towels. However, paper towels are for a single use only and should not be reused. When used multiple times, paper towels can transfer bacteria around the kitchen.

Observational Study Results

  • Recent USDA research conducted in a test kitchen found some startling insights about how bacteria may be spread around the kitchen when individuals are preparing raw poultry, especially when the raw poultry is washed or rinsed.

Handwashing:

  • Inadequate handwashing has been identified as a contributing factor to contracting foodborne illness, especially when preparing raw meat and poultry. Hands can move potential pathogens found in raw meat and poultry around the kitchen, which can contribute to foodborne illnesses.
    • Researchers observed 1,145 cases in which handwashing was required to prevent cross-contamination during meal preparation.
      • Of these, handwashing was not attempted 74 percent of the time, and 99 percent of the attempts did not contain all the steps of correct handwashing. The most common reason for unsuccessful handwashing was not rubbing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, followed by not wetting hands with water.
  • Proper hand washing after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs can greatly reduce the risk of bacterial cross-contamination. Hand washing should always include five simple steps:
  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel.

Poultry Washing and Cross-Contamination:

  • To assess cross-contamination when washing or rinsing raw poultry, researchers analyzed the spread of bacteria from chicken thighs that had been spiked with harmless tracer bacteria. The microbiological data identified both direct and indirect cross-contamination that occurred during the meal preparation experiment.
  • The most frequently contaminated surface was the kitchen sink, even for the participants that did not wash or rinse their poultry. This could explain where cross-contamination may have occurred especially if produce (i.e., salad ingredients) was washed or rinsed in the sink. Hand-facilitated cross-contamination is also suspected to be an important factor in explaining the cross-contamination that occurred in both groups.
  • Our results indicated:
    • 60 percent of participants contaminated the inner sink after washing or rinsing the raw chicken.
      • 14 percent of participants still had contaminated sinks after they attempted to clean the inner sink.
  • DO NOT wash or rinse raw meat or poultry. Juices can transfer bacteria onto kitchen surfaces, other foods and utensils. If you must rinse your meat or poultry because of other marinating processes, be sure to thoroughly clean, and then sanitize all kitchen surfaces to eliminate the risk of cross-contamination.

Food Thermometer Use:

  • 44 percent of participants used a food thermometer on at least one chicken thigh.
  • 20 percent of participants only used visual cues to determine if food “looked done.”
  • 11 percent only used cooking time to determine if food was done cooking.
  • 9 percent only used touch to see if food was hot enough to be done.

    You can’t see, smell or feel bacteria on meat and poultry, so you should always use a food thermometer to make sure you have destroyed any illness causing bacteria, such as Salmonella or Campylobacter.
     
    • Cook whole cuts of raw beef, pork, lamb and veal steaks, chops and roasts to 145 °F. For safety and quality, allow meat to rest for at least three minutes before carving or consuming.
    • Cook raw ground beef, pork, lamb and veal to 160 °F.
    • Cook raw poultry (ground and whole) to 165 °F.

 

Last Modified Jan 14, 2020