Smart grocery shopping is not only about saving money, but healthy shopping. Shop carefully to avoid a potentially dangerous experience of food poisoning.
The tips offered below are a good primer for safe supermarket shopping.
Healthy Food Shopping Tips
Choose pre-packaged and canned foods carefully. Avoid items with packaging that is crushed, rusted, dented, bulging, stained or leaking. These imperfections may be an indication that harmful bacteria is growing inside.
Watch Expiration Dates
Take note of expiration, or best purchased by, dates on all packaging. This is particularly important with dairy products, such as yogurt, cottage cheese, milk, sour cream, eggs and cream cheese. Choose the best dates to extend use at home.
Examine eggs before purchase. Look inside the cartoon to be sure that none of the eggs are cracked or broken. You should also run your hands gently along the top of the eggs to be sure that they move freely, and are not stuck in the carton.
Handle raw foods carefully. Uncooked meat, chicken, and seafood can leak and contaminate other food items. Separate these foods by storing them in the handy plastic bags supplied by your grocer. When storing raw food items at home be sure to wrap them securely and disinfect all surfaces that come in contact with the raw item.
Don’t purchase refrigerated or frozen seafood if the package is unsealed, ruptured or collapsed on the edges. Look for clear packaging that shows the content are free of ice crystals and freezer burn. Both may be a sign that the fish has either been stockpile or defrosted and re-frozen.
Temperature and Cleanliness
Check for cleanliness and adequate temperatures at the meat or fish counter and salad bar. Take note too of how items are stored/displayed. For example, cooked shrimp should not be kept on the same bed of ice as raw fish as it could become contaminated.
When shopping for shellfish, purchase from markets that are known to provide products from reputable sources. Your fish should be opaque, free of brown spots or coloring and odors of any kind. Whole fish should have clear eyes and closed gills.
Shop for Perishables Last
Pick up milk, refrigerated foods and other perishables last. It is a good idea, in warmer months, to pack items in a cooler for travel or to ask your grocer to pack especially vulnerable items on ice. If no other options are available you may chose to pack cold item together to help them hold their temperature until you get home.
Drive immediately home from the grocery store. This will give cold or frozen food less time to lose temperature before you get home.
Hot Comes Last
Save hot chicken and other hot foods for last, too. This will give them less time to cool off before you get home.