February 2021

Guacamole, Party Dip, Chicken Wings and Food Poisoning

Watching the big game with your favorite snacks? If you aren’t careful, you can end up with more than a full stomach and bragging rights.
Football and baskets of food

Guacamole, party dips, chicken wings and veggie trays are the most popular snacks for parties and sporting events. In fact, guacamole has become so popular that an estimated 28 million pounds of guacamole are consumed during the big football game on Sunday!1 But, given that 46% of foodborne illness is due to improperly handled vegetables2, it’s important to take steps beyond social distancing so that you don’t have to worry about being sidelined during or after the game.

Whether it’s for the big game or a small family party, follow these quick hacks to avoid getting an upset stomach or food poisoning.

Keep your hands clean: While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s important to do this simple task before preparing avocados for guacamole. To properly wash your hands, use soap and warm water and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Then rinse thoroughly and dry with a clean towel.

Always wash avocados (and other veggies) before preparing: Wash your veggies before peeling or slicing to prevent contamination. Tap water is preferred over vegetable sprays and washes. Veggies with firm skin like avocados can be washed under running tap water using a scrub brush, while soft-skinned produce such as tomatoes should be rinsed under running tap water and patted dry with a clean paper towel.

Snacks in the shape of a football

Get the temperature right: Many foodborne illnesses are the result of food being stored at the wrong temperature. Once peeled and sliced, avocados and dishes like guacamole need to be kept at 40° F (4° C) or colder. Keep guacamole and other dips or cut veggies in the refrigerator until just before serving and put serving dishes on ice to help keep them cold.

Think about presentation: Serving your food in smaller portions is a smart play and safer because you can put out more as needed. Also, pay attention to how long foods have been sitting out – foods like guacamole, cooked chicken wings and dips should not be kept out more than two hours unless stored at the correct temperature.

Stay healthy: Cooking while sick only spreads your germs around faster, so don’t cook or serve foods if you’re feeling under the weather. Plus, it’s never a good idea to double dip your spoon when tasting foods. If you need to check taste, use a clean utensil each time. And never double dip your chips or veggies! Instead use a spoon to put some dip on your plate!

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Super_Bowl_Sunday

2 https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/attribution-image.html#foodborne-illnesses