Tips for your game-day food safety

Stephanie Smith, Food Safety

Many of us will be spending this weekend watching the Super Bowl. Given that we are still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is extremely important to limit close contact with others, wear a mask around people outside of your home, engage in frequent handwashing and avoid sharing utensils. On a positive note, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID), is unlikely to be spread through food or surfaces. Though this is good news, you still need to take precautions to prevent foodborne illnesses. The following tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help ensure your game day is a success.

Preparing Food

Always wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before, during, and after preparing food and before eating. Be sure to wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item, especially between preparing raw meat and ready to eat foods. Never wash food packaging or food with soap, bleach, sanitizer, alcohol, disinfectant or other chemicals as this can make your food unsafe to eat. Only use running water to wash fruit and vegetables.


Poultry products, such as chicken wings, should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 165 F as measured using a food thermometer. Ground meat and egg dishes should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 F. If you are cooking foods that have been commercially processed, be sure to read the package instructions to ensure the food is adequately cooked. Most processed foods recommend cooking to an internal temperature of 165 F.

Holding and serving food

Hot food must be kept above 140 F and cold food must be kept below 40 F to prevent the growth of illness causing bacteria. Any food held at 40-140 F (the danger zone) must be discarded after two hours. To keep food out of the danger zone, use chaffing dishes, slow cookers, or warming trays to keep food hot. For cold foods, nest serving bowls into larger bowls filled with ice.

Wrapping up

Be sure to refrigerate or freeze any leftovers within two hours. Large quantities of food such as leftover casseroles, stews, or cuts of meat, should be divided into smaller portions to ensure rapid cooling. For information on how long food can be kept refrigerated or frozen, refer to the FoodKeeper app which can be found at or downloaded onto your Apple or Android device. Be sure to always reheat leftovers to 165 F before consuming.

Now that we have covered safe food handling, here is a game day recipe from the Partnership for Food Safety.

Lemon-Pesto Chicken Wings


4 lbs. chicken wings, tips removed

3/4 cup store-bought basil pesto

1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tbsp. lemon zest


1. Wash hands with soap and water.

2. Preheat oven to 400 F.

3. Place wings in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Do not rinse raw poultry.

4. Wash hands with soap and water after handling uncooked chicken.

5. Place sheet in oven and bake wings for 25–30 minutes, until they are well browned and crispy, and the internal temperature reaches 165 °F on food thermometer.

6. While wings are roasting, combine pesto, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and lemon zest (the peel without any of the white pith) in a bowl large enough to hold all wings.

7. When wings are cooked, remove from oven and place in pesto mixture. Toss to coat well.

More recipes can be found at

We hope you have a happy and safe game day!

Dr. Stephanie Smith is an assistant professor and statewide consumer food specialist for Washington State University. She can be reached at

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