Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Super Bowl, Chicken Wings and Salmonella

During Super Bowl Sunday, people will eat approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings.  Food service outlets such as Buffalo Wild Wings and Wing Zone will sell 2 to 4 times the amount they normally sell.  For many consumers watching the game at home, they will prepare their own wings, probably for the first time.

Just as we worry about turkey preparation at Thanksgiving, chicken wing preparation on Super Bowl Sunday becomes a concern for foodborne illness.  Why?

  • Chicken parts have been found to contain more Salmonella than whole chickens.  While Salmonella is a concern, Campylobacter actually has a higher prevalence on chicken.
  • Food service operations will be handling a lot more chicken wings than they normally handle. This may increase the risk of undercooking or cross contamination during handling especially at peak times (such as an hour or two before kickoff).
  • People cooking chicken wings at home may also undercook them or contaminate them through mishandling.  This risk is increased when 1) people are doing it for the first time, 2) people are unskilled in the art of chicken wing preparation,  3) people are working with a larger quantity than they are normally use to handling, 4) people have enjoyed one-too-many adult beverages, and 5) a combination of these factors.

Now, we can't let the worry of bacterial contamination stop us from enjoying eating chicken wings during the Super Bowl and (although it would have been much more enjoyable if guys wearing the Black and Gold were playing), and we certainly don't want to have post-game worship sessions with the porcelain throne.  So here are some simple measures:

  • Make sure you wings are cooked. When cooking them yourself, check with a thermometer to ensure all wings have reached an internal temperature of 165F or higher..  When purchasing, make sure there is no pink and that the meat is not rubbery.  Better overcooked than undercooked.
  • If undercooked, do not eat.  The large amount of alcohol consumption will not save you and may reduce your ability to resist that savory, burning flavor.
  • If you have not cooked wings before, consider buying fully cooked wings and then all you have to do is properly reheat.  
  • If ordering wings at a foodservice establishment, whether ordering to eat there or to-go, order early. This will help you avoid the rush, and give you time to take corrective action if not properly cooked. 
  • If making wings, cook them earlier in the day,....before your guests arrive, before you consume beverages, and while you can concentrate on what you are doing.  With this, be sure to check the temperature and use clean surfaces for the cooked wings.

Other things to remember when handling food...., Keep foods at the right temperature if you will be serving for a number of hours...keep hot foods hot (>140F) and cold foods cold (<40F).  Make sure leftovers get into the refrigerator.  Do not let foods, especially cooked meat, sit out at room temperature for more than a hour or two.  Clean as you go to help prevent cross contamination.

USDA News Release
Beat Foodborne Illness this Super Bowl

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2017 — As excitement for this year's Super Bowl grows, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) encourages consumers to use safe food handling practices at a championship level and avoid becoming one of the estimated 48 million Americans who gets sick from foodborne illnesses each year.

The Super Bowl draws over 100 million television viewers who consume approximately 1.3 billion chicken wings during game day parties. With an average National Football League game taking more than 3 hours to play, Americans will be mixing plenty of football watching with food during Super Bowl parties.

At these parties, it is vital to keep foods out of the "Danger Zone," which is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F. When foods are left in the "Danger Zone," bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a single bacterium to multiply to 17 million in 12 hours. Avoid serving Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza and chicken wings, at room temperature for the entire game.

When serving food or ordering takeout food, use the following game plan:
  • If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140 °F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers. 
  • If take-out foods will not be served immediately, either keep them warm in a preheated oven, or divide the food into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate. At serving time, reheat to 165 °F. 
  • Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40 °F or below, which can be done by nesting serving dishes in bowls of ice. Avoid storing food outside, where the sun can quickly warm foods in plastic storage containers and animals can get into. 
  • Start a game day tradition by using a food thermometer to ensure foods being served to guests are not in the "Danger Zone."
To ensure home prepared chicken wings are safe, follow these tips:
  • Do not wash raw chicken wings. Sixty-seven percent of respondents in a 2016 FDA food safety survey indicated they washed raw chicken parts; however washing will not destroy pathogens and may increase the risk of contaminating other foods and surfaces. 
  • Ensure chicken wings are safe to eat by verifying they have reached an internal temperature of 165 °F. Take the temperature of multiple wings in the thickest part of the wing being careful to avoid the bone. 
If you need food safety coaching, call your personal coaches at the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish. Learn more about key food safety practices at and on Twitter @USDAFoodSafety

Jan 30, 2017 @ 09:54 AM
1.33 Billion Chicken Wings To Be Eaten On Super Bowl Sunday And More Food Factoid Fun
Geoff Williams , Contributor

The Super Bowl is to the food industry what Christmas is to retailers.

In other words, if the December holiday season disappeared, it would have a profound impact on the retail industry's economy. I doubt you need convincing, but it's always fun to look at statistics and data showing what gluttons we are. Here are some of the numbers demonstrating just how much food will be consumed over the upcoming Super Bowl weekend when the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons play on February 5.

We eat more food, only on Thanksgiving. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Super Bowl is the second largest food consumption day in America.

According to the folks from the coupon website,, Americans will buy 12.5 million pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday, with an average order value of $26.45.

Another way to look at how much pizza will be consumed over Super Bowl weekend...
  • In mid-January, Pizza Hut announced that they expected to hire 11,000 employees in time for the Super Bowl. (The company is also in the midst of a major expansion.)
  • Hungry Howie's, a pizzeria with over 550 locations in 21 states, predicts that they'll sell 200,600 pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday – 33,600 more than they would on a typical Sunday. And for those who like numbers, that translates into 61,800 pounds of cheese, 7,632 gallons of sauce and 93 tons of dough.
  • The people at the delivery food website tell me that last year, orders from pizza places increased by 16 percent on Super Bowl Sunday, compared to a normal Sunday. (Actually, that doesn't seem like a huge spike, which is kind of interesting and may just speak to who orders from DoorDash. For instance, deliveries from sports bars jumped 34 percent over a typical Sunday.)
Chicken wings. Over the Super Bowl weekend, according to the National Chicken Council's annual report, Americans are set to eat 1.33 billion chicken wings, which is up two percent (or 30 million chicken wings) from last year.

Drilling down, a little more...
  • The chicken wings chain, Buffalo Wild Wings, sent me their Super Bowl numbers, and the amount of food they sell on Super Bowl Sunday is striking. According to Karim Webb, who owns several franchises of BWW and is on several of the corporations advisory boards, each BWW sells approximately 6,000 wings on a typical weekend. But over the Super Bowl weekend, that number jumps to 13,500.
  • Wing Zone, an Atlanta-based restaurant chain that specializes in buffalo wings, expects to sell around 450,000 chicken wings nationwide this Super Bowl Sunday, up from the 411,611 wings they sold on Super Bowl Sunday in 2016. On a typical Sunday, they sell a little over 100,000 wings (for comparison's sake, they sold 132,674 wings nationwide on January 8, 2017 and 108,071 wings on October 23, 2016).
  • Buffalo Wings & Rings not surprisingly reports a huge jump as well. The restaurant chain nationwide typically has over 9,000 orders of traditional wings and close to 8,000 boneless wings on Super Bowl Sunday – compared to around 3,700 traditional wings and 5,200 boneless wings on an average day.
Nachos and cheese. To underscore my point that the Super Bowl truly is like Christmas for some business owners, Professor Thom's is a Patriots bar in New York City, and the owner, Pete Levin, estimates that the Super Bowl weekend accounts for almost 75 percent of the bar's food sales for the year.

He says that customers will eat more than 150 pounds of cheese over Super Bowl weekend. During any other typical weekend, customers consumer an average of 10 to 15 pounds of cheese, according to Levin.

CDC Website
 Game Day Food Safety Tips

Tackling a buffet at your Super Bowl gathering? Practice these game rules and keep the runs on the field.

Super Bowl Sunday is an American tradition of football, friends, and food. It's the second largest food consumption day of the year, ranking only behind Thanksgiving.

Make sure your Super Bowl gathering is memorable for all the right reasons! Follow these six tips to avoid food poisoning:

1. Keep it clean.
Wash your hands( with soap and running water (warm or cold) for at least 20 seconds before preparing, eating, and handling food—especially after passing the TV's germy remote control! Also wash your hands after using the bathroom and touching pets.
Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item.
Rinse produce under running water, including those with inedible skins and rinds. For firm-skin fruits and vegetables, rub by hand or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing.

2. Cook it well.
Use a food thermometer to test Super Bowl party favorites, like chicken wings and ground beef sliders, and any other meat or microwaved dishes on your menu.
Make sure chicken wings (and any other poultry) reach a minimum internal temperature of 165°F and that any ground beef sliders or burgers reach 160°F.
Microwave leftovers to 165°F to get rid of harmful bacteria.
Refer to the Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures chart for the "rest time" of meats—the period after cooking that some meats need to rest before serving to ensure that germs are killed.
Good news for your super-hungry guests: chicken wings and ground beef sliders don't require rest times!

Rules of the Game for Food Safety
View larger image and text description(

3. Keep it safe.
If preparing food in advance, divide cooked food into shallow containers and store in a refrigerator or freezer until the party begins. This encourages rapid, even cooling…and discourages pre-party nibblers.
Getting takeout or delivery?[228 KB] Make sure to keep hot foods hot, and cold foods cold.
Hold hot foods at 140°F or warmer. Use chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays to keep food hot on the buffet table.
Maintain cold foods, like salsa and guacamole, at 40°F or colder. Use small service trays or nest serving dishes in bowls of ice, replacing ice often.
Large pots of food, such as soups or stews, and large cuts of meats, such as roasts or whole poultry, should be divided into small quantities for refrigeration to allow them to cool quickly and minimize time in the temperature "danger zone" between 40°F and 140°F.

4. Watch the time.
Follow recommended microwave cooking and standing times.
"Cold spots"—areas that are not completely cooked—can harbor germs.
Always follow directions for the "standing time," the extra minutes that food should stand in the microwave to complete the cooking process. Then check the internal temperature with a food thermometer.
Track the time that food stays on the buffet.
Sideline any perishable foods that have been out at room temperature for two hours or more.

5. Avoid mix-ups.
Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods like veggies when preparing, serving, or storing foods.
Offer guests serving utensils and small plates to discourage them from eating directly from the bowls with dips and salsa.

6. Get it to-go.
Discard[228 KB] any perishable foods on the buffet for two hours or more.
Divide leftovers into smaller portions or pieces, place in shallow containers, and refrigerate.
Leftover foods should be refrigerated at 40°F or below as soon as possible and within two hours of preparation. It's OK to put hot foods directly into the refrigerator.
Refrigerate leftovers for three to four days at most. Freeze them if you won't be eating the leftovers sooner.
Leftovers should be reheated to at least 165°F (74°C) before serving

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