Are you ready for some eating? Yes, it’s time again to celebrate the big game with parties in homes across the country.
Super Sunday is the second highest day of food consumption in the US after Thanksgiving, according to Foodsafety.gov.
More than 114 million viewers (and eaters) are projected to check in for the big game.
Many of those will be at-home parties, gathered in front of the big screen with a big food spread.
Detective Foodsafe® has been invited to a party, too, and hosted her own in the past, but knows that these parties can be a source of trouble for people who may not realize the risk due to the variety, type and quantities of food served.
Most of us don’t realize the harmful impact that our food can have on our health – food poisoning is a big problem. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 48 million people a year get some type of foodborne illness and, of those, 3,000 will die.
It isn’t just about the nutritional value of the foods we add to our party menu but the safety of the foods we serve that will matter to your guests, especially when Detective Foodsafe is invited!
Not that nutrition isn’t a concern, but foodborne illness can be almost immediately catastrophic!
Party Foods That Fail
Detective Foodsafe reminds us that there are many reasons why party foods can fail to be healthy and safe for us all to eat.
It boils down to how everyone involved handles the food. Here are things Detective Foodsafe wants us all to consider before the party starts:
Planning the menu
Determine which foods are safest to keep on a buffet and which will need special handling to keep them safe.
Are you prepared to keep food hot and cold on the counter for two hours?
Purchasing and preparing the food
Handling your ingredients from the point of purchase through cooking and serving requires careful attention. Improper food storage and handling can ruin the party before it starts.
Work on clean surfaces and avoid cross contamination during preparation and serving. Keep the food at its proper temperature throughout the entire process.
Temperature checks during cooking and holding
Cook all foods thoroughly to their proper temperatures and hold all hot and cold foods at their appropriate temperatures during the game.
Re-check the temperatures within 2 hours.
Have enough eating utensils and plates as well as serving utensils and platters to be able to get a fresh plate and utensils for each trip to the buffet.
Each food needs its own utensil and fresh platter when refilled.
Plan for the leftovers
There will be leftovers so have a plan for how they will be divided up, taken home safely, stored and reheated to prevent illness after the party.
Tell guests to use any leftovers they take home within four days or freeze them for later use. Be sure to reheat thoroughly before eating.
Certain party foods can put all the guests, including Detective Foodsafe, at risk for food poisoning due to their very nature.
Finger foods that people may pick up off the serving plate without a utensil could result in cross contamination.
We love our crunchy nibbles with dips that, without the proper temperature control, can lead to bacterial growth.
The wings, shrimp, crab dip, and meat sliders can put the partygoers at risk for foodborne illness because they often don’t hold their temperature for as long a period of time as they are left on the buffet.
Avoid Time Temperature Abuse
Foods can become dangerous when they have been left at room temperature for more than two hours.
The typical professional football game lasts over 3 hours. The Big Game is even longer, with extended pregame and halftime shows.
When party hosts begin setting up the buffet for the big game before the guests arrive, keep the food out until the game is over, and people have a final nibble and drink, food will be out of its proper temperature and into the temperature danger zone.
Here is a handy reference guide you can download for free that will help you determine if your buffet has entered the temperature danger zone.
Tips to Keep the Party Food Safe
Detective Foodsafe has these great tips to make not only this super party safe but all your parties food safe:
- Encourage food handlers to wash hands
- Put smaller amounts of food out at a time and replenish within two hours
- Keep cold food on ice
- Keep hot food hot with crock pots and warming plates; keep the lid on the crock pot
- Use a food thermometer to check the temperature of the buffet foods regularly and take action with any that are not appropriate
- Use separate serving utensils for each food
- Discourage guests from bringing food from home when they may travel a distance with foods that can’t be kept at its proper temperature; reheat to 165 degrees before serving
- Prevent cross contamination, especially keeping raw and cooked meats separate in all parts of the food handling chain
- Keep beverages on ice, especially whole fruit juices and dairy
- Store leftovers after 2 hours in shallow pans that will allow quick cooling
- Don’t use uncooked marinade as sauce
- Use fresh plates with each trip to the buffet
One in six of us will be victims of foodborne illness this year but coming home from the big game party with food poisoning is not how we want to start our new year!
Being aware of food safety pitfalls and keeping our party buffet safe will keep your guests coming back to enjoy the good times with you!