Food Safety

Food Safety - Eat at Home Missouri

Shopping for Food

Food safety begins in the supermarket aisle. Here are a few easy steps you can follow to ensure the food you bring home will arrive safely.

  1. Select cold food last.
  2. Read the label. Don’t buy food that is the past the “Sell-By”. “Use-By” or other expiration dates.
  3. Check the packaging. Never purchase product in packaging that is torn or leaking. Make sure frozen food is frozen solid and refrigerated food feels cold.
  4. Inspect fresh produce for damaged and bruised produce.
  5. Place meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags to guard against cross-contamination.
  6. Separate foods in your grocery cart. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other food to further prevent the possibility of cross-contamination. Keep them separated during checkout and in your grocery bag.

Product Dating

Before buying a product, make sure to read the expiration labels:

Types of Dating


“Sell By” date Tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.
“Best If Used By” (or Before) date Recommended for best flavor or quality. It is not a purchase or safety date.
“Use-By” date The last date recommended for the use of the product while at peak quality. The date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

Food Preparation

Once you have the food home, the safety is, literally, in your hands. Safe food preparation always begins with “clean.”

Handwashing: Always wash your hands for 20 seconds before beginning food preparation, after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or touching pets. It is best to wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.

Surfaces and Utensils: Cross-contamination happens easily when using cutting boards and utensils.

  • Wash cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on the next item.
  • Try to use one cutting board for fresh produce – a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood.
  • Once cutting boards become excessively worn or develop hard-to-clean grooves, replace them.


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