Food Safety Tips

Read these 7 Food Safety Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Grocery tips and hundreds of other topics.

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How do I reduce the risk of food poisoning?

Handling Leftovers

The Food Safety Inspection Service estimates that as many as 33 million illnesses annually are directly linked to food-borne bacteria and microorganisms. It is believed that many of these illnesses are caused by foods that are left out too long at room temperature. To avoid becoming part of these statistics, follow these simple rules regarding leftovers:

*After cooking, place food in covered containers and promptly refrigerate (within 2 hours).
*If a cooked food has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours –throw it away.
*Use leftovers within 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator.
*Use leftovers within 2-3 months if stored in the freezer.
*When reheating leftovers, warm to a temperature of 165°F.
*”If in doubt, throw it out” is still a good rule to live by.

   
Who can I call for questions about meat safety?

Food Safety Hotline

If you have a question regarding meat/poultry food safety, there is a hotline you can contact.

Call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1(800)535-4555. If you reside in Washington, D.C. call (202)720-3333 instead.

Calls are answered by home economists and registered dietitians from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday-Friday year round. Callers also have the option to select from a menu of recorded food safety messages 24-hours a day.

   
How do I keep my groceries from spoiling on the way home?

Keep An Insulated Cooler In The Car

Do you live in a hot area of the country? Is your milk warm when you get home?

To avoid spoilage in the car of perishable items such as milk, frozen products, and ice cream, try keeping an insulated cooler in the passenger area of the car. The frozen items placed in with the milk/ice cream will help to keep it stay cooler longer on the ride home.

   
How do I keep my milk from going bad on the way home on a hot day?

Shopping Order

While grocery shopping, plan your trip around the store to find the non-perishable items first, then the frozen items, and finally other perishable items such as dairy, deli, meat, and eggs. The coldness of the frozen items when placed next to the other perishables will help those items retain their cool temperature longer and lessen the chance for spoilage.

   
How do I keep my frozen food from spoiling in a brown-out?

In Case of Power Outage

In the event that a power outage seems likely (due to hurricane, heat wave, brown-outs, etc.), freeze small containers of water and run your ice-maker. Then pack ice cubes into all the small spaces in your freezer. Fill all possible spaces in the fridge with
containers of water to get cold, too. If there should be a brief power outage, your cold and frozen food will keep better and you will have safe water for drinking.

   
What is a Davidson Egg?

Egg Safety-New Eggs Are Coming

Have you been scared to use raw eggs? Longing for a "real" Caesar Salad? Do you like soft cooked eggs but are afraid of the risk of Salmonella?

Fear no more. There's a new egg on the market that will make you take out those raw egg recipes again. The new egg is being marketed under the name Davidson's Pasteurized Eggs. They undergo a patented process that eliminates bacteria and the organisms that cause Salmonella.

They are slightly more expensive than unpasteurized eggs, but the extra cost is worth it for the security of knowing you can eat your cake and the raw batter too.

These eggs are currently available along the East Coast and will be made available throughout the country shortly.

   
What is cross contamination?

Avoid Cross Contamination

Cross contamination is one of the leading causes of food poisoning. It occurs when food comes in contact with germs transferred from another source. These germs are allowed to multiply and can cause illness. An example of this is when you use the same knife that you cut your chicken with on a head of lettuce. The lettuce (now salad) is placed back in the refrigerator where the germs start to breed.

To prevent cross contamination, cleanliness is essential. Here are some ways to protect yourself:

*Make sure all prep surfaces and utensils are clean and sanitized before and after use.

*Use a different utensil when working on different foods, the same goes for cutting boards.

*Wash hands with hot soapy water before, during, and after handling different foods.

*Use paper towels rather than sponges to clean surfaces. Sponges hold and spread germs.

*To sanitize surfaces, use an antibacterial cleaner (follow label instructions, should sit on surface for 10-15 minutes) or an effective yet economical alternative is to mix 1 teaspoon of bleach with 1 quart of water and let sit on the surface for a few minutes.

   
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Linda Handiak