Safe Grocery Shopping

How to handle food safely

food safetyAccording to the Food and Drug Administration, contaminated food causes about 325,000 cases of food poisoning every year in the United State that results in more than 5,000 deaths.

But it’s tough to know exactly how many people get sick from food they purchased from the supermarket. People often don’t report food poisoning, especially if it is not serious and they self diagnosis it as something else, such as a case of what seems like the flu or upset stomach. Even if they know they have food poisoning, it difficult to pinpoint where they pick it up.

You don’t want your loved ones or yourself to suffer from the effects cause by the salmonella or E. coli bacterium. So what can you do to lower your risk of getting sick from the food you buy at your local grocery store?

Here are a few tips on how to be safe shopping at the grocery store.

  • Shop at supermarkets that are clean. If a store smells, or is dirty and dingy, that tells you something about how the store employees handle the food?
  • Do your shopping of nonperishable items first and save frozen foods and perishables such as meat, poultry, fish and eggs for last to prevent them from being at room temperature too long.
  • Separate foods to prevent cross contamination. Don’t stock your raw meat, poultry, and seafood on top of food items that are going to serve raw, such as prepackaged salads, or freshly baked bread. It’s also a good idea to separately bag your produce, and double-bag your raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Don’t pick cans that are dented or bulging, or jars that are cracked or have loose or bulging lids, which most likely indicate bacterial contamination.
  • Don’t buy products that have been on the shelves too long. Check the expiration date on cans and packaging to make sure they are fresh before putting them in your shopping cart.
  • Check the temperature of the refrigerator cases storing the milk and meat to make sure the temperature is correct between 35-40 °.
  • Don’t buy frozen food with damaged or opened packaging. Do not buy a partially thawed package of frozen food.
  • Try to avoid prepackaged salads. They are convenient, but have been known to get contaminated and cause food borne illnesses. Prepackaged salads also tend to be more expensive that regular vegetables that you buy to make your own salad.
  • Buy only refrigerated eggs. Don’t buy eggs that are cracked or dirty. Open the carton to check each egg. Clean your hands after you touch the eggs.

Even before going to the supermarket or grocery store, make sure you have the right equipment to transport the food home from the store. If you live far from the store and you are buying perishable foods, make sure you bring along a cooler and some blue ice. Go straight home from the store. And once you get home, refrigerate perishable products right away. Always wash fresh fruits and vegetables as soon as you get home.

Prevent cross contamination by washing your hands after handling each different types of food, especially after handling any meats, eggs or other uncooked foods. Use antibacterial wipes or other antibacterial cleaning agents on cutting board, cabinet, anywhere that came in contact with food.

While no one can completely do away with germs and their chance of food poisoning, we can all take some necessary precautions to reduce the possibility of getting sick from the food we buy at the grocery store.

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