Stay out of the "Danger Zone" for the Super Bowl - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Stay out of the "Danger Zone" for the Super Bowl

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It's almost time for the Super Bowl, which means you need to have a strong defense against double-dippers and unsafe food handling techniques.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) want to help you avoid becoming one of the estimated 48 million Americans who gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year.

 Over 100 million television viewers who watch the Super Bowl (and the commercials) will consume approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings during game day parties. And since the average National Football League game takes more than 3 hours to play, the chances for food and football watching at Super Bowl parties is pretty good. 

To avoid a penalty (or being sidelined) keep foods out of the “Danger Zone,” the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F.  

In the “Danger Zone,” bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours.  

Avoid leaving or serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.  

A smart game plan for food safety is to:

  • Keep warm foods at 140 °F or above in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers. 
  • Take-out foods not served immediately should either be kept in a preheated oven, or divided into smaller portions or pieces, placed in shallow containers, and refrigerated. Reheat to 165 °F and serve. 
  • Cold foods should be kept at 40 °F or below by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice.  
  • Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into. 
  • Start a game day tradition by using a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the “Danger Zone.”

For safe, home-prepared chicken wings are safe, follow these tips:

  • Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken parts; however washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces. 
  • Ensure chicken wings are safe to eat by verifying they have reached an internal temperature of 165 °F.  Take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone. 

If you need food safety coaching, call your personal coaches at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. 

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