09 July 2010

Shop Smart for Safe Food

I received the following from the Manitoba Association of Home Economists.

It is timely tips on how to shop smart for food that will reduce the risk of a food-born/related illness.

By Mary Carver, P.H.Ec.

We all love a hot summer; still, soaring temperatures increase the risk of becoming

infected with a foodborne illness.

Here are a few shopping tips to help keep food purchases safe from harmful bacteria

and reduce your risk of contracting a foodborne illness - in any weather:

Make your grocery stop, your last errand before you head home.

Consider using a hand sanitizer before and after pushing the grocery cart.

Take a cooler or an insulated bag with a frozen pack in your car to carry meat,

fish, dairy and fresh produce home from the store - especially in hot weather.

Consider carrying groceries in your air-conditioned car, rather than in a hot trunk.

Choose fruits and vegetables with the fewest cuts and bruises. Bacteria can

thrive in such damaged spots.

Despite the temptation, avoid sampling unwashed fruits or vegetables. Bear in

mind that several people handled those grapes before you.

Keep reuseable grocery bags clean. Wash bags frequently in warm, soapy water

and dedicate specific bags for fruits and veggies only. Reusable grocery bags

are for food only. Find other bags to serve as diaper bags or to carry gym clothes

or pet supplies.

Shop often to avoid overstuffing the refrigerator. Cold air (4°C/40°F or colder)

needs to circulate above and beneath food to keep it safe. You will have fewer

perishables to spoil if the power fails in a heat wave.

Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods in the shopping cart, in

grocery bags and again in your refrigerator. Despite efforts to reduce plastic, a

small plastic bag inside a reusable bag is a smart choice to reduce the risk of

meat, fish or poultry juices contaminating other food.

Pick up refrigerated and frozen items last on your trip through the grocery store

so those items are out of refrigeration for the least possible time.

For added protection against bacteria, use a disinfectant or a mild bleach solution

(1 tsp. bleach per 3 cups water) on countertops where grocery bags were set.

While this step may seem excessive to some, just think of the many places those

bags touched down before they reached your kitchen counter where you are

about to prepare lunch.

Always wash your hands for at least 20 seconds before handling food and after

handling meat, poultry, eggs and seafood.

Mary Carver, P.H.Ec is an Ottawa-based Professional Home Economist and a member

of the Ontario Home Economics Association.

Ontario Home Economics Association (OHEA) a self-regulated body of Professional

Home Economists promotes high professional standards among its members so that

they may assist families and individuals to achieve and maintain a desirable quality of

life. OHEA is a partner in the Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety

Education. For more tips on food safety visit: www.canfightbac.org.