Food borne illnesses are usually mild, but occasionally can be serious and debilitating. Those particularly at risk include young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with depressed immune systems and chronic medical conditions.
Planning your shopping
Here are a few suggestions to help you shop efficiently and safely:
Do your shopping in the right order!
- Start with the non-perishable items: canned food, biscuits, pasta, rice, oil, etc
- Then add the fresh fruits and vegetables, dairy products etc., from the chilled section
- Last of all: the refrigerated and frozen section. It’s a good idea to take a freezer bag with you so that you can keep the food cold until you get it into the refrigerator or freezer
It’s best to do the shopping fairly quickly, put the food away in the appropriate storage places as quickly as possible and only take it out just before it is to be eaten.
Storing food in your refrigerator
Your refrigerator and freezer must be at the correct temperature to keep the food in good condition, preserve its nutritional value and ensure it is safe to eat.
The temperature in your refrigerator should not be higher than 5°C, with adequate air flow around the food ensuring an even temperature distribution.
- Store raw foods in covered or sealed containers
- Thaw frozen food in the refrigerator, not at room temperature where bacteria can multiply
Storing your food
- Check the "best before" and "use-by" dates
- Store food away from toxic items, such as cleaning agents and sprays that can contaminate food
- Cover all food before storing in cupboards
Five questions about food safety
How do I know if a packaged food is safe to eat?
Most labels on packaged food include a "use-by" or a "best before" date. Foods with a "use by" date must be consumed before the date listed for health and safety reasons. Foods with a "best before" date provide a bit more flexibility. However, it is recommended that you eat foods by the "best before" date to enjoy the best quality possible.
Can I still buy food even though it has gone past the "use-by" date?
Use – by date” or “Recommended last consumption date” or “Expiry date” means the date which signifies the end of the estimated period under any stated storage conditions, after which the food probably will not have the quality and safety attributes normally expected by the consumers and the food shall not be sold. So, it should not be bought.
Can I still eat a product even though the packaging is damaged?
If the packaging of a fresh product, such as cottage cheese, yogurt or milk, is damaged you shouldn’t eat the product. The same is true for damaged, dented or rusted cans.
What should I check for when shopping?
- Damaged packaging or damaged foods
- Check the product very carefully for any signs of dented, rusted or swollen cans; leaking cartons, cans, bottles or containers; torn or ripped packaging; swollen chilled food packages; cracked eggs or broken or imperfect seals