If you’re like most people, you probably think of food safety at home. But the fact is, food gets contaminated somewhere between the farm and your kitchen. Most of that contamination occurs in the grocery store. Here are some tips to keep your food safe when you shop:
- Don’t use your shopping cart as a baby stroller. When babies sit in a shopping cart, they often put their hands on the handle or seat and then put their hands in their mouths. The same is true for toddlers. Germs from unwashed hands can spread to other customers using the cart.
- Keep meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs separate from other foods in your grocery cart and grocery bags so juices don’t drip onto other items and contaminate them with bacteria that could make someone sick.
- Check the expiration date on items before you purchase them making sure they haven’t expired already or will expire before you can use them. You can also check canned goods for dents, bulges or rusting, which may indicate spoilage or botulism poisoning (botulism is a potentially fatal form of food poisoning).
- Buy local. Local food tends to be fresher than what’s shipped from another state or country because it hasn’t been sitting around as long. If you live near a farmer’s market or farm stand, buying from them can cut your risk even more.
- It’s important to maintain cold temperatures of perishable food at all times during your grocery trip and on the way home. Never leave items in the car for more than two hours, and never leave perishable items overnight in your trunk. The temperature can rise rapidly under these circumstances and food can spoil before you even get it into the house.
- If you are using reusable grocery bags or other containers, make sure they are clean and dry before using them again.