Creating a Safe Super Bowl Spread

Football Party Food

The Super Bowl party has become an American tradition. Friends get together to watch the big game as the hosts bring on the beer and snacks. But food safety experts caution that setting out a table of goodies for guests to snack on over the hours can invite foodborne illness. Some of our favorite Super Bowl foods—chicken wings, dips and raw veggies—can be particular culprits. If guests “double dip,” that can also spread germs. And food safety begins in the kitchen, with safe preparation practices.

How well do home cooks do when it comes to protecting against bacteria? Last year, experts from Kansas State University went to the replay to find out. They videotaped home chefs as they prepared a meal that included both raw meat and raw fruit, and found that 90 percent of the cooks had managed to cross-contaminate the salad with bacteria from the meat—a big no-no.

Said Prof. Randy Phebus, “A lot of studies in the past have been surveys asking consumers how they do things in the kitchen, but we have found that those are rather unreliable. When you actually videotape it and observe it, most consumers are doing a really bad job in terms of preventing food contamination.”

Phebus’ team found that participants had managed to track contaminants all around the kitchen—onto handles, faucets, countertops, trash cans, and especially onto dish towels. Said Phebus, “We found that most people tried to wash their hands, but did it very ineffectively — either only using water or not washing for long enough. By not washing their hands correctly, they spread contamination to the hand towels. They then go back to those towels multiple times and recontaminate themselves or the kitchen surfaces with those towels. It ultimately leads to contamination in the food product.”

Especially if your part guests will include senior sports fans, who are at higher risk of serious illness from contaminated food, it’s very important to practice safe food preparation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a Super Bowl Buffet safety tip playbook here

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise, with information from Kansas State University (

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