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Food Safety & The BIG Game

Posted in Food Safety on February 2, 2019

The BIG Game is upon us folks. Even if you don’t follow football, there is electricity in the air this time of year. Fans from across the globe gather in front of their televisions, local pubs, or in the stadium itself to watch a historic match between the two best teams of this year. A lot of time, money, and food goes into making this the best night possible. This is why Big Game Food Safety is such an important things for all of us to remember.

What kind of food safety fan would I be if I didn’t talk about the best ways to entertain guests without sending them home unhappy they came to your party? Food poisoning is a real danger when lots of food is left out for a long time. Today, let’s talk about what I feel is the most important part of food safety during the Big Game: times, temps, and touchdowns.

When the big night is here, you need to already have read through and memorized your playbook. What are you going to fix? How much? Who’s going to be there? You know, all of the regular questions. Those are easy. How about how long can a dip sit out on the table without turning sour? Or how long can that special dish you make last in the fridge if there are leftovers? Without a doubt, these are the more important questions we need to be asking.

Pro Tip: Remember the Big Game can last three or four hours (or more) so be prepared when using cook times, prep, and holding times.

Let’s Have a Clean Game

This one should go without saying, but it is one of the most important parts to food safety. Washing your hands needs to be paramount before, during, and after preparing foods. Remember to give them an extra wash after each high-five after a great play.

Keep utensils, cutting boards, and counter tops clean at all times. Using hot soapy water will be your first line of defense pushing back bacteria.

Fruits and vegetables need special care before serving. Washing under warm water, even if you don’t plan on cooking them, will remove any dirt or germs.

Running Out the Clock

When placing food out for everyone to snack at their leisure, time is the enemy. The longer food stays out the easier it is to have bacteria gathering in and on it. Here are a few tips to consider to save yourself and your party from food poisoning:

  • Crockpots have a low setting for a reason – use it to keep food warm.
  • Serving food in intervals is one way to keep it fresh and keep your party happy.
  • When setting out dips, make sure they rest in a bowl of ice.
  • Halftime is your mark. Checking temperatures at halftime will ensure food is not going bad.

As the host, you have a responsibility to your guests. Enjoy the game but keep an eye on times and temperatures too. A few minutes in between questers will keep food safe and bacteria free. Then, even if your team loses, you are the winner.


Whenever we think of Big Game favorites, chicken wings usually come to mind. My wife is the biggest chicken wing fanatic I know. Whether you barbecue, spice them up, or have them plain there are a few constants that need special attention during preparation.

The USDA has this to say: “Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken part; however, washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other food surfaces.”

Internal temperature for chicken wings needs to be 165 degrees. Anything lower can lead to Salmonella poisoning.

Bringing in the Substitutions

If you plan on going a different route – calling an audible as it were – and ordering food in; most of the same rules apply. Keeping cold food cold and hot food hot should be your mantra. I love infographics. The USDA has one filled with all of this information concerning keeping food safe while sitting out. Take a look.

Pay close attention to storing and reheating. After the Big Game, the party can still be going strong for germs. Use a different container for each food item and close them up tight. Store food in the refrigerator and when reheating, check these guidelines for how long food can be kept before it goes bad.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense

My coach from high school told us over and over that in order to win we had to stop the other team from scoring. The rest will take care of itself. At first I thought he was a little nuts but once we took it to heart, he was right. Having a plan, making sure everything is ready, and executing your game will make for an enjoyable evening with friends.

One thing I am guilty of that most don’t think about is kitchen towels. When I cook I like to act like I’m some famous chief and drape a towel over my shoulder. It comes in handy in a number of instances but is full of bacteria. If you do this or just keep one in the kitchen, make sure you wash it regularly. Drying your hands or the counter tops can spread germs if the towel is not clean.

The End (Zone)

You’ve been planning for weeks. The guest list is made and everyone has given their RSVP. The food is planned in great detail or you know where your snacks are coming from. Everything is perfect.

I’m a list junkie so if you have to make a list of the things you need to do during each quarter then by all means do so. I will.

At the end of the night, no matter if your team won or not, you can send everyone home knowing you put every effort into making sure food safety was at the top of your list. At, we wish you a fun, fulfilling, and food safe evening. Touchdown!

By: Dwight Spencer, Contributing Writer (Non-Lawyer)