Don’t be tackled by bad pizza—follow these tips from food safety advocate Bill Marler

The Super Bowl is this Sunday and whether you’re rooting for the Seattle Seahawks or New England Patriots, Bill Marler, one of the nation’s top food safety advocates, would like all fans to serve up football’s biggest day with a heaping helping of food safety.

Second only to Thanksgiving in food consumption, Super Bowl Sunday is the day we indulge in the very best comfort food favorites: nachos, pizza, barbecue wings, sliders, chips, dip, and so much more.

While there’s not much anyone can do to avoid post-game gluttonous guilt, there are a few simple rules all Super Bowl fans need to follow to be their own safety in the defense against foodborne illness.

  • Follow Katy Perry Rule #1—that is “Hot & Cold.”  Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold and never let hot and cold co-mingle on the same platter. In the kitchen, the same is true of cooked and uncooked foods: keep them separated.
  • When the pizza arrives, stick it in a pre-heated oven to keep it fresh and bacteria free.
  • Use slow cookers to keep chili, hot wings, and other warm foods safe to eat throughout the game.
  • Serving dip, veggies, hummus, or other cold foods? Nestle cold serving dishes in a bowl of ice to keep foods below 40°F.
  • Wash all fresh vegetables and fruits thoroughly. Never use the same cutting board or knife for vegetables and meat.
  • Never, ever add fresh food to serving dishes with food that’s been sitting out.
  • Follow the Half-Time Rule—that is, before Katy Perry takes the stage, change out all food that has been sitting out without proper heating or cooling since the beginning of the game. Perishable food shouldn’t be out for more than two hours. Yes, this includes pizza and nachos.
  • Inspect your ground beef. Packaged, fresh ground beef should be bright red in color and used within 1-2 days of purchase.
  • If frying food, don’t overcrowd the deep fryer or pan as this can increase the risk of undercooked food.

Finally, always be sure to cook meats to safe internal temperatures:

  • Ground Beef: 160°F
  • Poultry: 165°F (includes ground chicken and turkey)
  • Steak: 145°F


Bill Marler is an accomplished food safety advocate and attorney. He began litigating foodborne illness cases in 1993, when he successfully represented Brianne Kiner, the most seriously injured survivor of the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak. Over the years, Bill and his firm, Marler Clark, have become the leaders in representing victims of foodborne illness, and have gone against companies that include Odwalla, Chili’s, ConAgra, Dole, KFC, Sizzler, Golden Corral and Wendy’s.

Bill regularly writes about food safety related issues on his blog and serves as publisher of Food Safety News, the online resource for food safety-related news and commentary.