Here's some food for thought on keeping eats safe Sunday

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Make sure hot foods stay hot and cold foods stay cold. (Courtesy photo)

ROCHESTER - Rochester's Health Inspector Bob Veno would like to remind residents to use safe food handling practices as they plan their Super Bowl festivities on Sunday.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 48 million Americans get sick from food-related illness each year. Typical symptoms of foodborne illness are vomiting, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms, which can start anywhere from hours to days after contaminated food or drinks are consumed.

"Foodborne illness is a problem that can be avoided by being aware of the health risks involved in food preparation," Inspector Veno said. "We hope that our residents can enjoy the Super Bowl free of any food-related health complications."

Most foodborne illness comes from eating foods that have been kept in the "Danger Zone" -- a temperature range of 40 degrees to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When Super Bowl favorites, such as pizza or chicken wings, are kept at room temperature for an extended period of time, bacteria can multiply rapidly and increase the likelihood of causing someone to get sick.

To ensure that food is kept out of the "Danger Zone" this weekend, Inspector Veno and the City of Rochester are providing the following tips outlined by the USDA:

• If warm takeout foods are to be served immediately, keep them at 140 degrees F or above by placing in chafing dishes, preheated warming trays or slow cookers.

• If take-out foods will not be served immediately, 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 degrees F.

• Cold foods that are served should be kept at 40 degrees 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."

The USDA estimates that Americans will consume a collective 1.3 billion chicken wings when the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons play in the NFL's championship game. If you are planning on serving chicken wings at your Super Bowl party, follow this game plan to ensure that your food is handled safely:

• Do not wash raw chicken wings. 67 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, but be careful to avoid the bone.

Anyone with questions regarding food safety or preparation is advised to call the City of Rochester Health Department at (603) 332-3508 or the USDA Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854).

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