Food Safety Starts Even Before You Get Home


The mostcommon food safety rules involve food preparation and storage, but bacteria canstart growing as soon as you take your groceries to your car.

Improperly bagging and transporting food after grocery shopping can causebacteria and contamination of your food. Following just a few tips can helpprevent contamination, according to Julie Albrecht, University of Nebraska-LincolnExtension food specialist.

"To make sure that the food you bring home is as safe and delicious as itwas at the store, it's important to know the best way to pack and transportyour groceries," the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resourcesspecialist said.

Different food types should be separated into different bags. Transport foodsto be cooked should go in one bag and those not to be cooked in another. Bag eggsseparately from foods you will eat raw in case they crack. Put foods of similartemperatures in the same bags, such as frozen foods, refrigerated foods androom temperature foods. More importantly, do not pack meat and dairy in thesame bag as produce and other raw foods.

"Meat pathogens can easily transfer to and contaminate produce,"Albrecht said.

The bag that holds the food matters too. A reusable, thermal bag can keepgroceries hot or cold until they can be stored properly. When using these bags,however, it is still important to use a separate bag for meats to avoid thespread of pathogens. Wrap meats in a plastic bag at the bottom if only usingone reusable bag, and clean reusable bags regularly.

"Wipe them out, or even throw them in the washing machine on a regularbasis to keep them germ free," Albrecht said.