Tuesday, January 30, 2007

USDA Offers Food Safety and Nutrition Advice for Your Super Bowl Party

U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing consumers with food safety and healthy eating recommendations in anticipation of Super Bowl parties that will held around the country.

Super Bowl Sunday is often recognized as the second biggest single day of food consumption in the United States after Thanksgiving. Like other holidays where food plays a prominent role, food safety should be a prime consideration to ensure that gatherings are healthy and happy events.

“Football, food and friends are great American traditions and the Super Bowl brings them together on one day,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard A. Raymond. “Whenever you combine large amounts of food with a large gathering of people, there are some important items for the host and guests to remember.”

Because Super Bowl parties can last for several hours, certain foods left at room temperature for too long enter the so called "Danger Zone," between 40°F and 140°F. Raymond noted that the “Danger Zone” is the perfect environment for harmful bacteria to grow and multiply.

To combat the risk of foodborne illness, Raymond encouraged those who are hosting parties to learn the four key messages that are part of USDA’s Be Food Safe campaign:

Clean - Wash hands and surfaces often
Separate - Don't cross-contaminate. Keep raw meat and poultry apart from cooked foods.
Cook - Use a food thermometer to be sure meat and poultry are safely cooked. Steaks should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 145°F, ground beef should be cooked to 160°F and all poultry should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. Also remember to keep hot foods hot. If hot food has been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, do not eat it.
Chill - Refrigerate or freeze promptly. Keep cold foods cold. If cold foods have been sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, do not eat it.
USDA is also encouraging football fans to make sure there are healthful and nutritious foods on the menu. While a one day splurge isn’t likely to have long-term negative health consequences, USDA reminds consumers that a healthy diet and regular exercise are the keys to good health.

“You can have a great Super Bowl Party while eating foods that are healthful, nutritious and strike the right balance,” said USDA Under Secretary for Food Nutrition and Consumer Services Nancy Montanez Johner. “What is important is to choose the foods and physical activities that are right for you.”

Montanez Johner encouraged consumers to learn more about healthful diet and exercise by visiting www.mypyramid.gov. Here you can get a quick estimate of what and how much you need to eat and the amount of physical activity you need to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle.

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