Food safety experts avoid these four foods at the grocery store


Food safety experts avoid these four foods at the grocery store

The food safety managers and food science technicians are tasked with enforcing FDA guidelines across companies to ensure that all food-related matters meet important standards—not just how the fare is made but also how it is sourced, packaged, stored, and handled over time. Time and distributed throughout the country. These people make it easy for us to buy groceries without worrying too much about what is safe.

When you hear about salmonella and E. coli outbreaks, for example, it's because the food safety inspector was able to identify and isolate the problem, and it's a job that requires different levels of training depending on where in the United States you're looking to practice.

So if there is food in the supermarket that you should avoid, the food safety inspector is the first person you should ask. We contacted them and asked what they wouldn't shop for at the grocery store.

Unpasteurized (raw) milk

Also known as raw milk, unpasteurized milk has not undergone a heating process defined by the USDA that kills pathogens, extends shelf life, and makes the beverage safer for consumption.

As a result, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, raw milk may contain harmful germs like salmonella, E. coli, listeria, brucellosis, and more.

Interestingly, selling raw milk is illegal in some states. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund offers a fascinating state-by-state breakdown. In Alabama and Colorado, for example, bans on raw milk extend to retail store sales, off-farm sales, and on-farm sales. On the other hand, in California, Maine, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania, among others, it is permissible to sell raw milk.

However, food safety regulators tend to shy away from the drink.

"Although it is possible to buy raw, unpasteurized milk in some states, I would recommend people not to eat it," said University of Delaware microbiologist Professor Kaley Knell, who also explained that when a product is already contaminated with a pathogen, it is a pathogen. Food will only smell or look different sometimes. So the "sniff test" of raw milk will not indicate whether it is safe to consume.

"There are a lot of people who promote [raw] milk as having all these health benefits, but it's not worth the risk because there are a lot of disease-causing organisms still alive in that milk, especially if it's coming straight from your milk," said Dr. Brian Kwok. Lee, a food chemist and industry consultant based in Washington state.

Raw Sprouts

According to experts, you don't necessarily have to steer clear of sprouts entirely (think radishes, alfalfa, and alfalfa, for example—not Brussels sprouts), but since the food can be a source of harmful bacteria like E. coli and salmonella, it's important to wash all produce thoroughly before eating it. (According to the FDA, "There is no need to use soap or lotion products, but plain running water is fine.”)

"For the sprouts to germinate, the seeds cannot be sufficiently disinfected to kill every type of salmonella that could be in there, for example," Knell explained. "But, in saying this, let's keep in mind that there are sprout growers who do a great job and pay close attention to cleaning and sanitation."

Looks more cautious. "There seem to be more foodborne issues with sprouts, and I think that's because of the desire not to use chemicals because of the kind of consumers that want to buy them," he said. "The potential for contamination is not very high, it's a moderate risk, but I would avoid it."

Pre-cut products

"If you're going to eat raw, pre-cut produce, you're dealing with just as much microbial risk as you are dealing with sprouts," Lu said. "This is because I don't know what the person behind the counter did while cutting up the produce and what practices they implemented. By law, packaged food has to go through a rigorous process, but food produced on site doesn't necessarily."

Kniel warns against cutting watermelon in particular because it tends to support rapid bacterial growth. Watermelons are more susceptible to contamination for various reasons: they grow on the ground and can therefore soak and trap contaminated water throughout the harvesting process. On Earth, they can also contact bacteria from animal feces. Finally, the skin of a cantaloupe or cantaloupe lends itself to bacterial growth as pathogens can easily attach to it and possibly penetrate the skin.

However, when it comes to producing—pre-cut or complete—both experts suggest washing everything thoroughly before eating, storing everything in the refrigerator, consuming the fare within a few days of purchase, and possibly considering cooking it instead. Eat it raw.

Hot Food Bars (With a Warning)

When cutting hot food in delis, supermarkets, and the like, experts tend to look at the holding conditions of prepared food over what is served.

Rule one: All foods must be kept at a hot temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit or above or below 41 degrees Fahrenheit if kept cold to ward off any potential bacterial growth properly.

"If the heating system is questionable, I will avoid the hot food bar," Lu advised. "But if it's been kept above the right temperature, it's okay to eat it because it can't be contaminated."

Kniel agrees with this assessment and offers a few more tips to remember while at the hot food bar. "I'm looking forward to seeing that a sneeze guard is in place and clean and that clips are clean and available," she said. "I want to see tweezers handled with care by my fellow consumers."

Kniel also mentions keeping his turnover in mind. For example, when you visit a hot food bar during lunch or dinner, you can expect the offerings to be replenished often. If you're thinking of getting some fare during your "off hours," you might consider that "the foods may have been sitting there longer, and you might be more careful with your choices."

Other things to watch out for 

This should be no surprise: If you notice packaged food looks unsafe or smells unpleasant, stay away.

"Consumers should look at the safety of packaged foods to make sure the packaging is not compromised in any way," Knell said, advising staying away from dented cans as well. Regarding food safety, if a meat or seafood product smells 'bad' or is very fishy, it may be spoiled and should be avoided. Also: Check the sell-by dates on packages of fresh produce to help you understand when the quality may begin to deteriorate unless You wouldn't eat it right away. This is good for packaged salads with a long shelf life."

Concerning fruits in particular, the expert does not buy bruised produce and, when picking berries, looks for mold-free packaging by examining the underside of the container.

Bonus tip: Wash your reusable shopping bags

When stocking pantries and refrigerators, most shoppers consider safety issues while choosing foods in the store, but according to Neil, conscientiousness has to go further.

"An important consideration today is the reusable grocery bags that a lot of people use," she says matter-of-factly, suggesting that consumers clean and wash the bags after and between shopping trips and, perhaps most importantly, avoid using them for other tasks. "For example, don't put football belts in a bag one day and put fresh produce in the next without proper cleaning — or don't do it at all." Cross-contamination is a real thing.

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