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Start at the Store: 7 Ways to Prevent Foodborne Illness

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5. Select frozen foods and perishables last.

Meat, poultry, fish and eggs should be the last items placed in your shopping cart. Always put these products in separate plastic bags so that drippings don't contaminate other foods.

6. Choose fresh eggs carefully.

Before putting eggs in your cart, open the carton and make sure that the eggs are clean and none is cracked. Buy only refrigerated eggs and follow the "Safe Handling Instructions" on the carton.

7. Be mindful of time and temperature.

It's important to refrigerate perishable products as soon as possible after grocery shopping. Food safety experts stress the "2-hour rule"-because harmful bacteria can multiply in the "danger zone" (between 40° and 140° F), perishable foods should not be left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Modify that rule to 1 hour when temperatures are above 90° F, as they often are in cars that have been parked in the sun.

If it will take more than an hour to get your groceries home, use an ice chest to keep frozen and perishable foods cold. Also, when the weather is warm and you are using your car's air conditioner, keep your groceries in the passenger compartment, not the trunk.

For more information about topics for your health, visit the FDA Consumer Information Center (www.fda.gov/consumer). 

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