SUNDAY, Feb. 3, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Tackling double-dipping is one way to ensure that the guests at your Super Bowl party on Sunday don't share germs and risk getting sick, an expert says.
Research shows that one double-dip -- when a person plunges a chip or vegetable they've taken a bite from back into the common bowl of dip -- can transfer about 10,000 bacteria from the eater to the dip.
"Double-dipping is like getting a lick of someone else's saliva. It spreads bacteria," Donna Duberg, a germ expert at Saint Louis University, said in a university news release.
One way to prevent double-dipping is to pick food items that come in their own individual packages. "Guests can have their own packets of chips or even boxed food items that have their own little packets of sauces," said Duberg, an assistant professor of clinical lab science.
Another approach is to set out individual bowls, dishes and even spoons so your guests can take a portion of dip that only they use. That way, they can double-dip without spreading germs.
Think about your choice of dipping sauces. Salsa is more acidic and bacteria won't grow in it as quickly as in thicker sauces such as those containing sour cream and mayonnaise, Duberg said.
Another idea is to serve items with sauce already on them, such as buffalo wings and cocktail sausages in barbecue sauce.
Another safety reminder for your Super Bowl party: Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
"The rule of thumb when preparing food ahead of time is that hot dishes need to be cooked at their appropriate temperature but kept hot [135 to 140 degrees] while on the buffet table," Duberg said. "Cold items should be stored at less than 40 degrees until serving and only left out for about two hours."
Do not taste and stir food that you are cooking for the party with the same spoon, Duberg said.
"Pour the item from your stirring spoon into a tasting spoon and then taste it," Duberg said. "Your stirring spoon should not touch anyone's mouth."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers food safety tips for parties and holiday gatherings.