Store your refrigerated and frozen foods safely

shutterstock_2994318We know that eating wholesome, nutritious foods is important to leading healthy lives. Menu planning is just one part of that equation! Ensuring that we store our food safely to avoid dangerous bacteria growth is vital, especially when dealing with perishable refrigerated and frozen foods. We don’t want our food to make us sick! In addition to preventing spoilage, proper storage also helps those foods to retain their taste and texture.

Food safety begins with your shopping trip. If food shopping on a warm day, consider taking a large cooler with cold packs for the trip home. Insulated reusable shopping bags also help to keep hot foods hot or cold foods cold for short periods of time. Disinfect these bags frequently.

If you have several errands to run, save food shopping for last so you can take your groceries directly home.

When shopping, purchase refrigerated and frozen products just prior to checkout. Do not place hot items right next to cold item in the buggy. Place raw meat in clear plastic bags to keep raw juices from contaminating produce or cooked foods.

When you get home put refrigerated and frozen items into your fridge and freezer promptly.

For optimum safety, your refrigerator should be set at 4°C (40°F) or colder, and your freezer should be set at -18°C (0°F) or colder.

If you are away from home for a period of time, you may not be aware of power outages that may have occurred while you are absent. These outages may cause cold foods to reach unsafe temperatures which may not be obvious when the power returns. A good tip is to freeze a small cup of water, when frozen, place a large coin or marble on top of the ice. Leave it in the back of your freezer. When you return from any absence, check the cup. If the item is partially frozen into the water, you will know that the power has been out or that your freezer has possibly malfunctioned. Discard questionable food accordingly.

For more information on food safety, visit the Government of Canada Healthy Canadians website.