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Keeping Foods Safe: Shopping and Transporting Foods

Grocery shopping can be an entertaining activity, but effective shopping involves lots of planning and organization, depending on individual needs and choices in different grocery stores. Good planning and organization can save money and time. Have you ever wondered if you follow safe food handling practices when you buy and transport food? Follow these key guidelines to protect yourself and your family!

shopping cart being pushed down the aisle at the supermarket


  • Start with the non-perishable sections and proceed to the refrigerated and frozen sections.
  • Check canned foods to ensure they are not dented, rusty or bulging.
  • Choose undamaged fruits and vegetables.
  • Fresh cut produce must be refrigerated.
  • Buy only refrigerated, clean, uncracked eggs.
  • Buy only pasteurized milk, milk products and juices.
  • Check for expiration dates before buying.
    • “Sell By” date: This is the date by which the store should sell the product.
    • “Best if Used By” date: Consume the food by this date for best quality and taste.
    • “Use By” date: The last date recommended by the manufacturer for peak quality.
  • Purchase cold foods that have been in the refrigerator and frozen foods that are well frozen.
  • Put heavy items at the bottom of the shopping cart and soft food on the top to prevent damage.

Prevent Cross Contamination

  • Put raw meats, poultry and seafood in plastic bags so that juices will not drip on and contaminate other foods, such as fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid packages that are torn or leaking.


  • Perishable foods must be refrigerated or frozen as soon as possible.
  • Never leave perishable foods in a hot car.
  • If not going directly home, bring a cooler with ice packs to keep cold foods cold.
  • Be sure to prevent cross-contamination during transport.
  • Wrap hot foods in double paper bags to keep them hot.

By following these simple rules, you can make your grocery shopping easier and safer for your family.

For more information about food safety, contact a Family Nutrition Program Assistant at your local Extension Office.

Jana Hart- Extension Agent- FCS/4-H