From purchase to prep

Keeping food safe.

There are many simple ways to prevent foodborne illnesses from the time you choose your food in the store until you are ready to prepare your food in the kitchen. Whether you prefer to shop in the grocery store or at a farmer’s market, it is important to follow these tips to preserve the safety of your foods:

  • Timing is everything, so be a mindful shopper! Always arrive early to farmer’s markets for produce to reduce the risk of bacterial growth from the exposure to uncontrolled temperatures. Also, make sure you can quickly transport your food home to put away properly.
  • Shop for non-perishable items first, leaving the refrigerator and freezer items in the cold temperatures longer. By doing this, you are reducing the risk of bacterial growth on these temperature controlled items.
  • Inspect the foods you are choosing- make sure there are no bruises, diseases, or damage to fruits and vegetables. Check boxes and cans for signs of damage that could have resulted from tampering or toxins, and check the labels and dates on your items, especially milk, milk products and eggs. 

Once you have arrived home from shopping, the journey is not over; it is time to store the food. Here are a few simple steps to keep your food safe at home:

  • Separate foods to prevent cross-contamination; put the ready-to-eat foods, like your fruits and eggs, at the top of your fridge and the raw meats and poultry at the bottom. By organizing your fridge, you reduce the risk of foods touching, or leaking onto others – this can be very dangerous.
  • Stay organized! You can reduce the risk of cross-contamination by placing the foods in containers or plastic wrap, and then label and date the foods to keep track of freshness.
  • Keep rotating your stock! Use the food dates and labels to organize your fridge and pantry so that you use the first items purchased first (First in, First out), reducing the risk of food spoilage and food waste. 

Now you are ready to cook your foods! Here are some helpful tips to keep your foods safe:

  • Wash your hands! Always wash your hands before preparing foods and when switching from one food to another. Also, make sure the materials you are using, knives, cutting boards, colanders, etc. and the foods that you are preparing are clean – do not use the same utensils for each food product.
  • Thaw frozen foods in the fridge, not on the counter. Cover the frozen foods and place them in your refrigerator to thaw to maintain a safe temperature and reduce the risk of bacterial growth.
  • Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Cook foods, like meat and poultry items, to the minimum internal temperature, using a food thermometer to check, and serve hot. Cold foods should remain cold and covered until serving. This reduces the risk the foods falling into the danger zone, allowing dangerous bacteria to grow. 

Michigan State University Extension recommends using these tips to keep your food safe – from purchase to prep. If you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3463).

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