Many people think that preventing food borne illness starts at home when in fact it should be taken into consideration, at the source, when shopping for groceries. According to the CDC, food borne ailments cause about 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,200 deaths in the US each year.
Here are some simple things that you can do to help prevent food borne illnesses when shopping for your groceries.
- Is the store you are shopping at clean? – The store should look and smell clean and if you see any food handling practices that don’t appear to be right don’t take the chance and report it to the manager.
- Separate certain foods. – As you make your way through the store you should keep your foods separate from one another. For example don’t place your meats on your vegetables. When selecting meats it is also a good idea to use plastic bags to prevent their juices from leaking out. Some stores even have hand sanitizer in the meat section for you to use after selecting your meats.
- Inspect cans and jars. – Don’t purchase cans that are dented or bulging and watch out for glass containers if they appear cracked or their lids are bulging or loose. Check those seals for tampering.
- Check frozen foods. – Of course you don’t want to buy anything that is opened or crushed but you also want to make sure that you don’t buy any frozen food that is above the frost line in the stores freezer. Check for signs of frost or ice crystals, this could mean that the food in the package has been thawed and refrozen or been stored for a long time.
- Select your fresh foods and perishable items last. – These products are the most sensitive and you want to keep them cool as long as possible so wait until the end of your shopping to add them to your cart.
- Check your eggs carefully.- When buying eggs you want to open the container and make sure that they are clean and damage free. They should also be kept refrigerated.
- Don’t dilly dally getting home. – You need to get home in a reasonable amount of time so your perishable items do not begin to spoil. Experts say that the “2 hour rule” because after that harmful bacterial can multiply into the danger zone. Even when you get home don’t leave perishable items out on the counter for very long. If the temperature is 90 degrees or above cut that rule in half. If it will take more than an hour to get the food home than bring a long an ice cooler to keep perishable items cold.
Food satety is important for protecting you and your family and there are many things you can do to help prevent getting ill. These are simple steps to put into practice and it is always better to be safe than sorry.