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.
- Select cold food last.
- Read the label. Don’t buy food that is the past the “Sell-By”. “Use-By” or other expiration dates.
- 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.
- Inspect fresh produce for damaged and bruised produce.
- Place meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags to guard against cross-contamination.
- 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.
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.|
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.
- Download the Kitchen Companion from the USDA