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Local health officials know there’s nothing like the excitement and camaraderie of a Super Bowl party, whether it involves dozens of your closest friends, or just a handful of family members. But concerns about food handling and widespread influenza are giving Newtown Health District staffers a good reason to step up their game when it comes to protecting party hosts and guests from the flu and foodborne illness.
Newtown Health District Director Donna Culbert and Food Service Inspector Suzette LeBlanc are referring anyone planning a Super Bowl party to food preparation, serving, and storage information offered by the US Department of Health & Human Services and foodsafety.gov. And they are calling on all party hosts to advise guests to not only have fun, but to be diligent when around people and food to wash their hands often.
“The Health District emphasizes hand washing, both for reducing and eliminating foodborne illness, as well as the person-to-person transmission of colds, flu, and other health ailments,” Ms Culbert told The Newtown Bee this week ahead of one of the biggest weekends of the year for parties and gatherings.
The US Department of Health & Human Services points out that Super Bowl Sunday is about much more than football in most American households and countless bars, restaurants, and food service establishments. In fact, when many people think about the Super Bowl, they think about the mouth-watering appetizers, delicious buffalo wings, and spicy chili that they will enjoy with their friends.
According to the National Restaurant Association, more than 48 million Americans will order takeout or delivery during the game. In 2014, the National Chicken Council estimated that 1.25 billion chicken wings were consumed Super Bowl weekend.
So by following tips in the agency’s food safety playbook, party hosts and servers will stand the best chance of ensuring their Super Bowl food is both safe and delicious.
For those preparing homemade fried chicken wings, the agency says:
*Make sure your frying oil temperature is 375°F before starting to fry.
*Before frying, pat dry the chicken wings to prevent oil splatter when submerged in hot oil.
*Make sure not to overcrowd the chicken wings in the frying basket. If the wings are crowded, they can be undercooked.
*To take a temperature of your wings, place them on a clean plate covered in paper toweling. Use a clean food thermometer to check the internal temperature; for food safety the temp should be 165°F. You should measure several wings before you finish cooking each batch.
*If the wings are below the minimum safe internal temperature of 165°F submerge them again in the hot oil.
Hosts who have plans to offer a buffet-style setup have some special challenges, especially regarding keeping hot food hot and cold food cold:
*Hot foods must have a heat source to keep them at or warmer than 140°F.
*Cold foods should be kept on ice to remain at a safe temperature at or below 40°F.
*Perishable foods left out longer than two hours should be discarded and replenished with fresh servings.
Party hosts serving food need to pay particular attention to how they are cleaning up:
*Wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds to avoid spreading bacteria to fabric kitchen or bar towels.
*Use clean plates, dishes, and utensils to serve and restock food, and keep surfaces clean.
*Never reuse paper towels. This product is for single use only. When used multiple times, bacteria can find their way onto the towel and hitch a ride around the kitchen.
*Kitchen towels build up bacteria after multiple uses. To keep the bacteria from getting the upper hand, you should wash your kitchen towels frequently in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
Jason Waggoner, a food safety education staffer at the USDA, says Super Bowl party hosts need to make sure raw meat and poultry do not come into contact with other foods. If they do, they can spread bacteria that cause food poisoning.
Use separate plates and utensils for these items, he says, and never place cooked food back on the same plate that previously held raw food unless the plate has first been washed in soap and warm water.
He also cautions anyone preparing meats to always use a food thermometer to make sure both meat and poultry are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. Color is never a reliable indicator of safety and doneness.
For reasons of personal preference, consumers may choose to cook meat to higher temperatures. The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the food and read after the manufacturer designated time.
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, and raw poultry to 165°F.
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