There are four main principles to shopping for food safely.
1. Know Your Suppliers
Shop at stores or use suppliers where you’re confident that they handle and store their products properly. Busy stores will have a higher turnover of stock and fresher products. Stores should be clean and well lit so that you can get a proper look at what you’re buying. For this reason, you should also avoid shopping in dark, dirty stores.
2. Separate Items to Minimize Contamination
If you work in an environment where you will have to do shopping for the kitchen at grocery supply stores, you must know how to safely organize the foods you buy as you shop.
To minimize contamination, separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from items that will be eaten raw.
Here’s a trick to avoid contaminating your hands when shopping for these items. Turn a plastic bag inside out. With the bag over your hand, pick up your raw meat, poultry or seafood, and then pull the bag over the item. It’s also a good idea to ask the cashier to place raw meat, poultry or seafood in a separate bag from other items.
3. Take Quality Control Steps at the Store
Be sure to check the best before dates, especially for potentially hazardous foods. The best before date is the date before which food should be consumed.
Avoid dented, bulging or leaky cans and broken packaging. Make sure your produce is fresh and in good condition without any bruises or damage.
When purchasing potentially hazardous foods, inspect them to make sure that they are in good condition. For example, check that skin-on chicken is not torn and that there are no broken eggs in a carton.
Follow Label Instructions – Read and follow the label directions on how to store the food: “Keep Refrigerated,” “Best Before,” “Refrigerate After Opening” and “Keep Frozen.”
4. Buy Refrigerated & Frozen Items Last
Before you shop, think about the order in which to get items. Start with the lowest risk foods first, such as canned and dry goods. Next, shop for produce and then dairy and eggs. Then, shop for potentially hazardous foods such as refrigerated meats, poultry or seafood. Lastly, shop for frozen items as it is essential that these products do not thaw before you put them in the freezer.
To minimize the chance of foodborne illness, it’s important to get refrigerated and frozen food to the kitchen as soon as possible. Buy these items on days when you can put them straight into the fridge. Although it is not a substitute for refrigeration, consider taking a small cooler with you to the grocery store to keep these items cool.