The NFL playoffs are underway and so are foodborne illnesses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to inform people about food safety during football watch parties.
Finger food, chicken wings and those communal dishes are what make a watch party a party. But with 1 in 6 Americans getting sick with foodborne illnesses like salmonella, more precautions need to be taken, according Janice Lopez from the USDA.
“Foodborne illness is a serious public health issue,” Lopez said. “We take this information out to people because we want everybody to practice the food safety steps.”
Lopez has four steps to food safety. The first is simple - wash your hands with warm soap and water. According to the Food and Drug Administration, 25 percent of people don’t wash their hands before preparing food.
Second: When you’re preparing a few different things like chicken wings and a vegetable platter, make sure you use two separate cutting boards to avoid cross-contamination.
Third: Make sure those chicken wings are cooked internally to at least 165 degrees.
Fourth: Any perishable food should not be in room temperature for more than two hours. Most games last longer than two hours so that presents the risk of foodborne illness.
And if you think foodborne illness won’t happen to you?
“Don’t ever take the chance,” Lopez said. “The statistics are there.”
Lopez said these food practices should be used every day, not just during the big game.