Before your next trip to a warehouse club store, stock up on these food safety tips:
Sample with Clean Hands
- Warehouse club stores often put out food samples, but most people do not wash their hands before reaching for these finger foods. Clean hands are the easiest way to prevent the spread of foodborne illness. Bring along pocket-sized packets of moist towelettes or carry a bottle of hand sanitizer and wash up before you sample.
Properly Store and Prepare Canned Foods
- Warehouse clubs sell canned and jarred products by the case. At home, rinse off each soda can, milk bottle and jar of food before opening it. (Remember to clean the can opener after you use it too.) This eliminates harmful bacteria from the outside of the container and prevents contamination of the food inside when you open the container.
- Store cans and jars in a dry setting. Avoid using any cans or jars with dents, cracks or bulging lids, all of which can indicate a foodborne illness threat.
- First in, first out: Use the oldest unexpired products in your pantry first.
Wash All Fruits, Including Those You Plan to Peel
- Picking up a bag of fruit? While most people remember to wash ready-to-eat fruits such as apples, grapes and pears before eating them, many of us skip washing peel-and-eat fruits such as oranges, bananas and lemons. Fruit peels can carry bacteria that can spread during eating, cutting or peeling, so always rinse them first.
Don't Go Beyond the Expiration Date
- If you buy in bulk, you may end up with more than you can eat. When it comes to deciding when to throw out food, many people wait for food to taste bad, look bad or smell bad rather than check the expiration date. Keep foods safe by eating or freezing them by the "use-by" date.
- If freezing items to extend their shelf-life, make sure your freezer is set at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind, freezing foods for too long can affect quality.
Freeze Extra Eggs
- Buying eggs in bulk can be a great value, but what should you do if you can't eat all 18 before the expiration date? You can freeze them. In fact, eggs will keep as long as a year in the freezer compared to just a few weeks in the fridge.
- The freezing process is simple: Beat whole eggs until just blended, pour into freezer-safe containers, seal tightly and freeze.
- Label containers with the number of eggs and the date. When you're ready to use the eggs, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Reviewed December 2012