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Clean Ideas: Countdown to Touchdown

Ten Tips for a Creating a Healthy, Happy Super Bowl Party

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Just when you thought you were done with holiday entertaining, along comes Super Bowl Sunday! While watching the game is more fun with a crowd, the good host takes some defensive action to keep the cold and flu germs and the bacteria that causes foodborne illnesses from scoring any points with your guests. Here are some tips to make it a winning day.

  1. Kick off with clean hands. They are the first line of defense in safe food preparation. To do the job properly, wet hands with running water. Then apply soap. Rub hands together vigorously to make lather and scrub all surfaces. Continue for 20 seconds. Rinse well under running water. Dry hands thoroughly. Do this before and after handling food.
  2. Separate the teams. Think of raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs as one team and everything else as the opposing team. During food preparation, keep them separate on all the playing fields – in the shopping cart, grocery bags, refrigerator and preparation surfaces.
  3. Keep the playing field clean. Make sure food preparation surfaces and utensils are clean. Consider using a dish soap with antibacterial ingredients designed to kill germs on surfaces (check the product label to be sure).
  4. Intercept germs and bacteria by disinfecting/sanitizing food preparation surfaces. After your cutting board is used for uncooked meat, fish or poultry, scrub it clean and then sanitize it with a solution of one tablespoon of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Wet the surface with this solution and allow it to stand for several minutes. Rinse with clear water and air-dry or pat dry with clean paper towels. Use a kitchen surface disinfectant to keep countertops clean and bacteria-free.
  5. Run interference on germs with plenty of hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes. Leave a container of disinfectant wipes for surfaces next to the sink in the powder room. Guests may not use them but you can pop in occasionally and give the sink or countertop a wipe-down. Put hand wipes and sanitizer in strategic places in the TV-viewing room so there are clean hands at snack time. Be sure there is a convenient place to discard the used wipes.
  6. Avoid holding penalties by eliminating bowls of food where everyone reaches in. Serve popcorn, chips and similar snacks in individual, oversized paper cups so there's no communal bowl where germs can be shared. For refilling, be sure to use a serving spoon or utensil.
  7. Sack the stains. Keep on-the-go stain remover, such as a stain stick or stain wipe, close at hand so both you and the guests can treat stains as they happen.
  8. Keep your eye on the goal. An important way to avoid foodborne illnesses is to keep food out of the "danger zone," which means it shouldn't stand out in temperatures between 40°F and 140°F, where bacteria multiply rapidly. Never leave perishable foods, such as meat, poultry, eggs and casseroles (think chicken wings, deviled eggs, meatballs, chili and more) in the danger zone for more than two hours. Even with the two-hour limit, it's best to keep hot foods hot by using a heat source, such as a warming tray, slow cooker or chafing dish.
  9. Bring out your best team players. Coasters and napkins, wastebaskets, receptacles designated for recyclables, and plenty of plates, cups and utensils will help keep post-party cleanup to a minimum.
  10. Post-game wrap-up. Take a few minutes after the party to sweep the room of food and other debris. Discard any perishable food, including cheese and dips that have exceeded the two-hour rule. Check for spills and stains. If possible, treat them promptly, as fresh stains are easier to remove than ones that have set for a bit. If the room has a stale or smoky odor, treat the textiles to generous application of fabric refresher.