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Food Safety for Your Family

You read labels, buy fresh foods, and do your best to prepare tasty meals for your family. But one thing that might not cross your mind as you cook is food safety.

Why is food safety so important? Proper food preparation protects against foodborne illnesses from bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria (which can cause diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration).

Safety precautions include knowing how to select foods in the grocery store, then storing them properly and cooking them safely, plus cleaning up well afterward.

Here's how to make sure your kitchen and the foods you prepare in it are safe.

Buying Food

Buying safe food is the first step. To ensure freshness, refrigerated items (such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish) should be put in your cart last. Keep meats separate from other items, especially produce. If your drive home is longer than 1 hour, consider putting these items in a cooler to keep them fresh.

When purchasing packaged meat, poultry, or fish, check the expiration date on the label. Even if the expiration date is still acceptable, don't buy fish or meats that smell or look strange.

Also check inside egg cartons — make sure the eggs, which should be grade A or AA, are clean and free from cracks.

Don't buy:

  • fruit with broken skin (bacteria can enter through the opening and contaminate the fruit)
  • unpasteurized ciders or juices (they can contain harmful bacteria)
  • prestuffed fresh turkeys or chickens

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