With Super Bowl Sunday right around the corner, make safe food storage, handling and preparation part of your game plan.
People sometimes overlook food safety, but it’s not something to be taken lightly. Food safety is a serious matter, because food poisoning can quickly turn a Super Bowl feast into a Super Bowl fiasco!
What exactly is food poisoning, and why is it a big deal? Here are some striking facts:
- Food poisoning affects 1 out of every 6 Americans each year. This adds up to around 48 million people nationwide.
- Food poisoning can happen just a few hours after consuming contaminated food.
- Some symptoms are nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fever.
- The effects of food poisoning are not always immediate. Some long-term ones include kidney failure and brain damage.
While avoiding food poisoning may seem difficult, it is actually quite simple if you follow a few tips while preparing for a meal:
When shopping for food, there are some important things to keep in mind:
- Take care to keep poultry, meat, and seafood items separate from produce.
- Make sure everything is in its own bag. You can even double-bag items to be extra safe!
- Keep meat, fish, poultry, and eggs last on your list. If these stay out of the fridge and in your cart too long, they can spoil and become non-edible.
- You might be tired after a long shopping trip, but make sure to freeze or refrigerate all meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products as soon as you get home.
Now that you’ve bought all you need for your party, there are several precautions you should take while getting the food ready:
- Don’t defrost meat, poultry, or fish on the counter. Marinate and store these in the refrigerator.
- Wash fruits and vegetables well and ensure that they don’t touch any surfaces exposed to raw meats.
- Use separate cutting boards, dishes, and utensils for cooked and uncooked foods, and make sure to wash them between uses.
- Don’t forget one of the most important things – wash your hands with warm water and soap!
Whether you experiment with new recipes or stick to some tried-and-true items, it’s important that you cook food properly.
- Use a food thermometer to determine whether food has been cooked enough.
- Check out the website www.foodsafety.gov for proper temperatures.
Time to eat!
It may seem like a good idea to make all the snacks and appetizers earlier on, but it is not safe to leave cooked foods sitting out on the counter for more than 2 hours. Use a warming tray or chafing dish to keep food warm (at 140 ˚F or above). Similarly, don’t leave foods that are meant to be cold out on the counter more than 2 hours.
Odds are you will probably end up with leftovers from your Super Bowl bash. It is important to store them properly. Even if foods are cooked, they are still at risk for contamination.
- Keep leftovers in the fridge for a maximum of three or four days, and make sure your refrigerator is set at or below 40˚F.
- Food in the freezer can be kept longer, but again, set it to the right temperature (0˚F).
- When you reheat foods, make sure they are hot enough.
- If you’re using a microwave, check that the food’s temperature has reached 165˚F.
If at any time during the food preparation process you are uncertain of something, don’t hesitate to get help. The NJ Poison Center can answer any questions you may have along the way or if a food poisoning situation should occur. Don’t rely on guessing or a web search. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
The Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) is available 24/7 to any resident who may need help. However, call 911 if someone becomes unconscious, stops breathing, is seizing, is bleeding a lot, or is difficult to wake up.
It’s a good idea to save the Poison Help Line (1-800-222-1222) as a contact in your cell phone. Also, write it down and post it in your home, office, apartment, etc. Make sure it’s in a visible and easily reachable place for all your guests to see. This way, you can have peace of mind, and your only worry will be whether or not your favorite football team will win!
Source: Press Release from The New Jersey Poison Information & Education System.