Shopping! That's one word that's sure to bring a smile to your face. Whether it's just window shopping with friends or a planned trip to buy something you want, shopping is a pleasurable pastime that will add cheer to any day.
Grocery shopping is an equally eventful activity, especially since more money is spent on food than any other goods or services, and more importantly because it determines the mood around the dining table every day! This is absolutely why it is essential to do it right. Because unknowingly buying food containing bacteria, which sometimes cannot be detected by sight, smell or taste, can end up creating a food poisoning crisis in your home.
So how do you know if the food you purchase is safe to eat? Here are some pointers.
What and how to buy?
- Buy only foods in good condition and with appropriate packaging.
- Pick up packaged and canned foods first, because they are not perishable, i.e they don't spoil easily.
- Shop last for perishable foods such as milk and dairy products, raw meat, chicken and fish, in addition to hot or cooked foods
- Buy eggs only from refrigerated cases.
- When buying unpackaged meat or chicken from the store, make sure they get enclosed in individual packages and in plastic bags. This prevents their juices from dripping onto other foods and causing bacteria to move to other foods (cross-contamination).
- In your trolley, separate hot foods from cold foods.
- Keep refrigerated and frozen items together so they remain cold, and place them together on the conveyor belt to encourage the store baggers to pack these items together.
- Buy only foods which you will consume before their expiry date.
- Buy frozen foods that are frozen solid, but without frost build-up on the package.
- If you have a long drive home, it's a good idea to have an insulated cooler with you, to store your chilled and frozen food during the trip back.
Another important thing to remember when general shopping is to buy your groceries only before you go home. This will help you avoid leaving food in your car.
What not to buy?
Avoid buying any product where you have doubts about the quality. These might include:
- Products past their expiry date
- Cans or containers with dents, cracks or bulging lids
- Products with damaged or torn packaging, indicating careless handling and old products
- Any product which may have been tampered with (i.e. broken or torn safety seals)
- Cracked eggs
- Chilled or frozen foods which are not properly chilled or frozen, and have been kept open or out of the refrigerator
- Products that are not clean
- Unlabeled foods
You can always report issues with packaging, product, storage or sanitation to store management. In fact, lots of consumers would thank you for that!
Grocery shopping can be fun or a chore for you. Whatever the case, remember to take into consideration the condition of the store. Only shop at places that don't keep food on the floor and where there are no pests or insects. Also make sure that the fridge and freezer are clean, cold and not over-packed.
Now that you have these helpful tips, we wish you a healthy, safe and enjoyable grocery shopping trip!