To make sure that the food you bring home is as safe and delicious as it was at the store, it’s important to know the best way to pack and transport your groceries. Instead of just throwing all of your food in a bag, follow these 10 safety tips:

  1. In general, keep the foods that you are going to cook in one type of bag, and the foods that you are not going to cook in another bag.

  2. If possible, pack foods of the same temperature together to avoid spoilage or contamination. For example, place all of the frozen foods in one bag, refrigerated foods in another, and room temperature foods, or produce, in another.  Separating these foods also makes it easier to put your groceries away.

  3. Be sure to get perishable items such as meat and dairy into the refrigerator as soon as possible. Bacteria can reach dangerous levels in two hours at room temperature. Just because it’s cold outside, the temperature inside your car might be warmer, especially if you've had the heater running. If you absolutely have to leave groceries in your car, keep them in a cooler with ice packs inside your car to keep them cold until you get home.

  4. Pack similar foods together to avoid cross contamination–the transfer of pathogens or allergens between one food and another.

  5. Never pack meats with raw fruits and vegetables or other foods you are going to eat raw as meat pathogens can easily transfer to and contaminate produce.

  6. Keep eggs separate from foods that you’re going to eat raw, in case the eggs crack.

  7. Some reusable, thermal bags can keep foods hot or cold for up to a couple of hours.  Make sure these bags are free from holes or tears.

  8. If you’re using your own reusable bag.  It’s important to wrap meats in a separate bag before placing them in a reusable bag in order to avoid spreading pathogens in these bags.

  9. If you only have one bag, place meats on the bottom of the bag within a plastic bag that is tied at the top, and fruits, vegetables and other items that won’t be cooked on the top. And next time, don’t forget to bring another bag!

  10. Keep reusable bags clean. Wipe them out, or even throw them in the washing machine on a regular basis, to keep them germ free.

Source: Jennifer McEntire, PhD, IFT member

In This Article

  1. Food Safety and Defense

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