I'm spending Super Bowl Sunday with good friends and good food. I have no concerns about foodborne illness because we're all a big group of hand washers with a plethora of common sense amongst us.

However, if you're attending a gathering for the big game with homemade goodies of unknown origin, made by persons unfamiliar to you, you may want to take extra precautions to avoid spending Monday hugging a particular bathroom plumbing fixture.

Also, if you are the host of such a gathering, you want to be sure you don't send your guests home with anything other than great memories of a wonderful time spent with family and friends.

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has a game plan to avoid contracting "food flu" this weekend.

  • Do wash your hands. Wet under running water and later with soap for 20 seconds (some people sing Happy Birthday twice), then dry with a clean towel or paper towel
  • Don't wash chicken wings, other poultry products or meats. It is completely unnecessary (despite what your mom or grandmom tells you) and worst of all it increases the odds of cross-contamination and spreads germs as water droplets splash off the food products.
  • Even when you shop, keep raw meats, eggs, and seafood separate from other foods in your cart by bagging them in plastic. When preparing these items use one cutting board for raw items and another for fruit and vegetable prep, or for cooked items.
  • Do keep hot foods hot (above 140°) and cold foods cold (40° or below)

For other food safety questions, you can call the USDA's Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854).

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