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Thursday, March 20, 2008

5 Ways to Beat the Bacteria

by Dorothy Foltz-Gray

Here, food-safety tips to help you wage germ warfare on your next shopping trip.

Feel a bit queasy about germy grocery-cart handles, human fruit squeezers, and bakers with runny noses? Here’s how to protect yourself from the bacteria that may get sent home with the groceries.

Wipe up.
Lots of retailers now place antibacterial wipes near shopping carts and produce departments for cart clean-ups. If they don’t, put in a request or carry antibacterial hand sanitizer with you.

Wash off.
Always rinse fruits and vegetables under running tap water before you eat them, says Shelley Feist, executive director of the Partnership for Food Safety Education. That should put your E. coli worries to rest and offset the fact that veggies are squeezed almost as much as the Charmin.

Use a food thermometer.
You love the roasted chicken under the hot lights—but if it’s not at 140 degrees or hotter, it could be germy, Feist says. Warm it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees at home (use a thermometer to be sure) to kill any bacteria like E. coli and salmonella. Cook ground meat to 160 degrees, roasts and steaks to 165 degrees, and fish to 145 degrees.

Refrigerate fast.
Get groceries to your fridge as soon as possible, definitely within an hour. If you have to run errands or face a long commute, carry an insulated bag or a cooler and buy ice to bed down the perishables.

Skip the samples.
Do you really want to dip your hands into that communal bowl of pita wedges and hummus—or eat that little slice of pizza that’s been sitting out for who knows how long? No, you don’t.

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