LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- Far too many people get sick as a result of food borne illnesses. Early this year, the "Food Safety Modernization Act" was signed into law. It promised the most sweeping changes to our nations food safety since the late 1930's, but we as consumers must protect our families. Here are a few tips from the Consumers Union in Washington, the Center for Public Interest, the USDA and the FDA.
Handle with care
*Keep raw meats and fish away from other foods, especially foods that will not be cooked.
*Thaw frozen meats in the refrigerator, microwave oven, or under cold water. You should never leave frozen food left to thaw on the counter.
*Wash ALL produce (vegetables and fruits) before it's used, even if it looks cleaned. Produce that will not be peeled can be washed well in plain water. If necessary use a scrub brush. Wash lettuce leaves individually. Produce that will be peeled or eaten off the rind, oranges or cantaloupes, should be washed on the outside with soapy water and rinsed well.
*Use paper towels and soapy hot water to clean utensils, counter surfaces, and cutting boards immediately after preparing raw meats and fish. Cloth towels and sponges will hold bacteria. Wash your hands, faucets, and anything else that may have touched any raw meat or fish.
*Never choose packages which are torn or leaking
*Don't buy foods past "sell-by" or expiration dates.
*Put raw meat and poultry into a plastic bag so meat juices won't cross contaminate cooked foods or those raw, such as vegetables or fruits.
*Place refrigerated or frozen items in the shopping cart last, right before heading to the checkout counter.
*Drive immediately home from the grocery. If you live farther than 30 minutes, bring a cooler from home for perishables.
Handling Leftovers Safely
*Divide foods into shallow containers for rapid cooling. Put food directly in the refrigerator or freezer.
*Use cooked food leftovers within 4 days.
*Cut or cooked produce items, such as baked potatoes or casseroles, should never be left out or held at room temperature for an extended time period.
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