dark overlay
nav button USDA Logo

FSIS

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Script: Shopping for Food

 

Intro:
Welcome to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service podcast. Each episode will bring you cutting edge news and information about how FSIS is working to ensure public health protection through food safety. While we're on the job, you can rest assured that your meat, poultry, and processed egg products are safe, wholesome, properly labeled, and packaged correctly. So turn up your volume and listen in.

Host:
Welcome to "Food Safety at Home." This is Kathy Bernard with the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Food Safety Education Staff. I'm your host for this segment. With me today is Diane Van, Manager of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. Diane and I will share some useful information about "Shopping for Food."

Hello, Diane, welcome to the show.

Guest:
Thank you Kathy. I'm pleased to be here.

Host:
Grocery shopping is something everybody does often — unless you eat all your meals out at a restaurant. But having safe food to cook and eat begins with being a careful shopper. It's important to be careful when choosing food and storing it at home.

Guest:
Yes, Kathy, between grabbing the rolling cart and the time your purchases are stored safely at home, there are a number of things to think about beyond just what's on your grocery list.

Host:
What's the first thing to do?

Guest:
Actually, it's what NOT to do. Don't run over to the meat department first. You should always put perishable food like meat, poultry, dairy products, eggs and frozen food in your basket LAST so they stay cold as long as possible.

Host:
Why is it so important to keep cold food cold?

Guest:
It's important because bacteria can grow rapidly in any perishable food at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. We call this the "Danger Zone" and food isn't safe at these temperatures for more than 2 hours.

Host:
Okay. So what's the first aisle to shop?

Guest:
Shelf-stable foods and other items that don't need to be refrigerated are the best things to put in your cart first. Maybe you have canned goods, baking ingredients, cereal, or snack foods on your list. Get into the habit of reading labels. Although dates aren't required by federal rules, many States require expiration dates. Don't buy food that is past the "Sell-By," "Use-By" date or other expiration dates. Also choose fresh fruits and vegetables before visiting the meat counter, dairy or frozen food aisles.

Host:
Can you give us some suggestions for buying fresh produce?

Guest:
Sure.
  • Always inspect fresh produce.
  • Don't buy fresh fruits or vegetables that are bruised or damaged.
  • Make sure fresh-cut fruits and vegetables are displayed in refrigerated cases at the store. If not, don't buy them.
  • After fruits and vegetables are cut, they need to be refrigerated so bacteria don't grow on cut surfaces.

Host:
Should eggs be one of the last items to pick up?

Guest:
Yes, eggs are perishable and must be displayed in refrigerated cases at the store and stored in your refrigerator at home. If eggs are displayed at room temperature, don't buy them. Always look in the carton to make sure none of the eggs are cracked and that they aren't dirty. Choose refrigerated eggs with clean, uncracked shells before the "Sell-By" or sometimes noted as "EXP" (expiration) date on the carton. When purchasing processed egg products or egg substitutes, look for containers that are tightly sealed and stored in refrigerated cases.

Host:
Is it time to choose meat now?

Guest:
Yes. When all other items on your list are in the basket, that's the time to choose meat, poultry, dairy products and frozen foods.

Host:
Is it okay to place packages of fresh meat on top of the other groceries?

Guest:
Actually, no. Meat packages can leak juices onto foods, such as fruits and vegetables for salad, that won't be cooked before eating. So it's important to separate foods in your grocery cart. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from other food to further prevent the possibility of cross-contamination. Keep them separated during checkout and in your grocery bags, too.

Host:
I know that cross-contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to a food from other foods, cutting boards, utensils, surfaces, or hands. How can you avoid this when shopping?

Guest:
Most grocery stores have plastic bags in the meat department or the produce section. Place meat, poultry, and seafood into these plastic bags. By bagging these foods before placing them in your cart, you'll guard against cross-contamination — which can happen when raw meat or poultry juices drip on other food, spreading bacteria from one food to another. Also, at home, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood on the bottom shelf or in the meat drawer of the refrigerator and not on top of ready-to-eat foods.

Host:
What if you see a meat package that's already leaking in the display case?

Guest:
It's always a good idea to check the packaging. Never choose meat or poultry with packaging that is torn or leaking. Make sure frozen food is frozen solid and refrigerated food feels cold.

Host:
Now we've checked out. What's the best way to keep the food safe on the way home from the store?

Guest:
Once your groceries are packed for the trek home, there are some easy "timing" tips you should follow to continue to maintain their safety.
  • Go straight home. Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store. Don't leave groceries in the car while you run other errands. The key is to always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours. This is true of all perishable foods and in all situations - and is known as the "2-Hour Rule."
  • Do a "Weather Check." When the outside temperature reaches 90 °F or above, you should refrigerate your purchased perishables more quickly - within 1 hour. If your grocery store is more than a half hour away from home, bring a cooler when you go to shop. Pack your meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs in a cooler for the drive home.

Host:
How about once we've arrived at home?

Guest:
When you get home, don't get distracted by other activities or a ringing telephone until you unload your groceries. Refrigerate or freeze perishable foods immediately. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline gets lots of calls from consumers who overlooked a bag of groceries and found they've left raw chicken and ground beef in the trunk of the car or on the floor in a bag overnight. Sadly, the Hotline must recommend discarding these items because they wouldn't be safe.

Host:
These are great food safety tips, Diane. You can learn more about food safety by visiting the FSIS Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov. That's www.fsis.usda.gov. Or visit our virtual representative "Ask Karen" at askkaren.gov. Ask Karen represents another way FSIS reaches out to consumers in support of its public health mission to assure the safety and security of America's food supply. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Ask Karen prompts consumers to type food safety questions directly into an extensive database that provides instant responses to more than 1500 questions.

Guest:
Consumers may also call our toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. That's 1-888-674-6854.

Host:
That's it for this week. We've been talking to Diane Van, Manager of the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline. Thank you so much, Diane, for your helpful guidance on shopping for food. I'm Kathy Bernard and I'd like to thank you for joining us for this episode of "Food Safety at Home." And remember, "Be Food Safe."

Outro:
Well, that's all for this episode. We'd like your feedback on our podcast. Or If you have ideas for future podcasts, send us an e-mail at podcast@fsis.usda.gov. To learn more about food safety, try our web site at www.fsis.usda.gov. Thanks for tuning in.

Last Modified Nov 08, 2013