The USDA’s advice mostly boils down to cooking meats properly and keeping all food out of what the US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) calls “the Danger Zone.” (Wait, that’s not the right link. Here.)
The Danger Zone is a range of approximate temperatures with room temperature somewhere in the middle: basically, anything between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. When food isn’t kept very hot or very cold, it’s much more hospitable to the rapid breeding of bacteria, including salmonella and Staphylococcus aureus. This means! “To escape a delay of game,” says the USDA, if you have a big pot of chili, keep it over a low heat on the stove or in a crock pot, maintaining a nice hot temperature.
Same with cold stuff: “Avoid a holding call” and don’t let dips or other cold-favoring treats raise their temperature too high – serve them over ice or just keep them in the fridge when not actively devouring them.
Meats are trickier; we know salmonella is a ridiculously hardy and widespread bug. Cooking meat to the temperatures the USDA recommends can kill it, but that does require keeping a close eye. We, and the USDA, recommend investing in a good meat thermometer (the Wirecutter says the ThermoPop is a good one) to “avoid a false start.” (Seriously, we’re not making these up.) Those temperatures: 165 degrees Fahrenheit for poultry (including chicken wings), 160 degrees Fahrenheit for ground meat, 145 degrees Fahrenheit for bigger cuts of meat (steaks, lamb, pork, veal), and always maintain a temperature of at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit for anything to be served hot. The USDA also recommends preventing “an illegal use of hands” by washing your hands before and after handling raw meat, which, you know, you should probably already be doing.
Enjoy the game! Go, [insert name of the team you want to win here]!