Getting Your Groceries Home Safely

As the weather gets warmer it is always a good idea to review safe food handling when shopping and bringing foods home from the grocery store. I wanted to share with you some tips to make sure your foods are handled correctly both for food safety and for best quality.

Here are some things to think about at the grocery store:

  • Look over any fresh produce you are interested in purchasing. Make sure they are not bruised or soft. If you are purchasing precut fruits or vegetables only buy if they have been refrigerated.
  • Do not buy any canned goods that are dented, leaking, bulging or rusty. Many stores sell dented cans at a discounted price but there is a risk of the food in the can being contaminated so do NOT buy those!
  • Keep foods separated in your grocery cart. Raw meats, seafood, and poultry could cause cross-contamination if their juice comes in contact with other foods you are purchasing. Make sure that meats are bagged separately when checking out.
  • Look at the dates on the foods. “Sell by” is a date the store should sell the product by.  “Best If Used By” means the manufacturer says the product will remain at peak quality until this date. It is not a safety date. “Use by” means the product should be eaten or frozen by this date.
  • Put the refrigerated and frozen items in your cart last, so they don’t have time to warm up when shopping. Many times the grocery store is where I see friends and food can warm up quickly when it is sitting in a grocery cart while you are talking!
  • If you have hot foods have them put in a double paper bags to maintain their temperature.

So we have handled the food safely at the grocery store now we need to safely transfer it home!

  • Make sure that the grocery store is your last stop. Run your other errands before you get your groceries. The key to all perishable foods is to refrigerate within 2 hours.
  • Put your perishable foods in the coldest part of your car. This is not necessarily your trunk unless it is open to the back seats. If your travel time home is more than a half hour think about bringing a cooler along to store your refrigerated and frozen foods. If the weather is above 90° F. food needs to be refrigerated within 1 hour.
  • Unload your car as soon as you get home. Don’t get distracted! Put the perishable foods away first.

Following these tips will help to keep the food you purchase safe and will prevent food waste and illness.

Beth Marrs

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Adult Home Economics Education. I love to cook and entertain and spend time with my family.

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