Food Safety

Food Safety

Freshness, Quality, and Safety

At Price Chopper we place the highest priority on the freshness, quality, and safety of the foods we sell.

Here are a few Price Chopper operational Food Safety facts that we are proud of:

  • We employ a full time Food Safety & Sanitation expert at our Corporate Headquarters.
  • In addition to government inspections, our stores/warehouse facilities are inspected every month by a third party food safety consulting firm called ProCheck to ensure that we are meeting government health standards as well as our own.
  • We use interactive training tools to teach basic Food Safety & Sanitation skills to all of our store level associates.
  • Over 200 of our store management associates have been officially certified in Food Safety & Sanitation.
  • The refrigeration and freezer systems in our stores/warehousing facilities have built-in system alerts for any potential food safety or quality problems.
  • Price Chopper's Seafood Distribution Center is HACCP certified under the FDA Seafood HACCP Program.

We also believe that an educated consumer is our best customer, so we've provided food storage and preparation tips to help you enjoy safe, wholesome food.

Proper food handling and cooking is the best way to prevent foodborne illness. We must learn to store foods properly, cook them thoroughly and keep our hands and work areas clean. Remember those most at risk for developing foodborne illness are children, the elderly and those who have chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.

In the home, food safety concerns revolve around food storage, food handling, and cooking. Take a look at each of these tabs to learn more.

  • Visit the Fight Bac! website for guidelines on safe food handling and preparation in your home.
  • For additional food safety information about meat, poultry or eggs, call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1 (800) 535-4555.
  • Contact us at Price Chopper if you have any specific Food Safety or Sanitation questions/comments.

Safe Storage


Cooling

Most people understand that cooking food will kill harmful bacteria. But did you know that quickly cooling leftovers is also important to ensure food safety? Failure to cool foods properly is often a contributing factor of foodborne illness

Cooking food does kill harmful bacteria, but some harmful bacteria have the ability to survive during the cooking process. These bacteria can grow to dangerous levels if leftovers are not chilled to 45° F or less in a timely manner.

To Chill Food Properly

  • Keep cooked food in the refrigerator.
  • Put leftovers in shallow pans (less than three inches) and place in the refrigerator immediately after the meal. Large or bulky foods should be divided into smaller pans so they cool more quickly.
  • Foods that are cooked 8 or more hours in advance of a meal, should be put in shallow pans and placed in the refrigerator. Again, divide large or bulky foods into smaller portions.
  • Don't overload your refrigerator. Putting a large quantity of hot foods in your refrigerator may reduce its ability to chill food quickly.
  • Use ice to chill. In some foods, such as soup, ice can be directly added to the food. Or you can put your food (in its container) in an ice bath. Make an ice bath by combining ice and water in a bowl larger than the food container.

The 2-Hour Rule

Discard any perishable foods left at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Harmful bacteria can grow rapidly in the "Danger Zone" between 40 and 140° F in that time. Keep cold foods at 40° or below and hot foods at 140° or above. This goes for buffets and any other situations. If you are eating outdoors at a picnic or cookout where temperatures are over 90° F, discard after 1 hour. Don't taste test it, either. Even a small amount of contaminated food can cause illness. When in doubt, throw it out!

Storage at the proper temperature also retains the fresh appearance, pleasant aroma and agreeable texture that contribute so strongly to an enjoyable dining experience. Plus, if you've taken the time to carefully select a variety of healthful foods, why not use them — or properly preserve them for long-term storage -- while nutrient levels are at their peak?

Leftovers

Wrap any leftovers tightly for best quality, and date them so they can be used within a safe time. Leftovers can be refrigerated in shallow containers, and should be used within 4 days. In the freezer leftovers are safe indefinitely, but most will have best quality if used within 2-4 months. Foods kept frozen longer than recommended times are safe, but may be drier and may not taste as good.

About Refrigerators

Refrigerators should stay at 41° F (5° C) or less. A temperature of 41° F (5° C) or less is important because it slows the growth of most bacteria. The temperature won't kill the bacteria, but it will keep them from multiplying, and the fewer there are, the less likely you are to get sick from them. Freezing at zero° F (minus 18° C) or less stops bacterial growth (although it won't kill all bacteria already present).

According to the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, many people overlook the importance of maintaining an appropriate refrigerator temperature. According to surveys, in many households, the refrigerator temperature is above 50° (10° C). So, measure the temperature with a thermometer and, if needed, adjust the refrigerator's temperature control dial.

Storage in the Refrigerator

(40° F or below)
  • Cooked meat or poultry - 3 to 4 days
  • Fried chicken - 3 to 4 days
  • Pizza - 3 to 4 days
  • Foods such as egg, tuna, macaroni, or potato salad - 3 to 5 days
  • Luncheon meats - 3 to 5 days
  • Gravy - 1 to 2 days
  • Foods stored longer may begin to spoil or become unsafe to eat.

Storage in the Freezer

(0 ° F or below)
  • Cooked meat or poultry - 3 to 6 months
  • Fried chicken - 4 months
  • Pizza, luncheon meats - 1 to 2 months
  • Salads made with mayonnaise do not freeze well.
Storage

Safe Handling


You are the last person to handle your food before it is eaten. You may be the last person to handle food before it is served to your family or friends. Take charge! They deserve the best, and you expect no less from those who produce and prepare food for you. You are no less important than the manufacturer, government regulator, or grocer in assuring food safety. You are an important link in the farm-to-table chain.

Clean Hands

Prevention of illness may be as simple as washing your hands — an often-neglected but VERY important act. Poor personal hygiene is a contributing factor in approximately one quarter of all foodborne illnesses. And improper hand washing probably accounts for the largest part. Your hands can be transfer agents for viruses and bacteria, but proper hand washing will prevent the transfer of disease causing organisms.

According to a recent survey, 80% of Americans understand that washing hands is important to prevent the spread of germs and over 90% report washing their hands after going to the bathroom. But nearly 50% could do a better job of washing their hands. Another survey reveals that only 11% of female and 6% of male respondents regularly wash their hands after using a public restroom.

You should wash your hands:

  • After going to the bathroom.
  • Before handling food.
  • After handling raw meat, fish or poultry and before you touch other foods.
  • After sneezing or coughing.
  • After taking out the trash.

Simply rinsing your hands in water is not very effective. Washing your hands should take at least 20 seconds to be effective. Follow these recommended hand washing procedures to reduce bacteria:

  • Wet hands with warm water.
  • Using soap, rub your hands together to make a good lather.
  • Wash the front and back of your hands, under your fingernails, between your fingers and thumbs.
  • It takes approximately 10 - 15 seconds to get a good wash.
  • Rinse your hands in warm running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel.

If you have an infection or cut on your hands, wear rubber or plastic gloves. Wash gloved hands just as often as bare hands because the gloves can pick up bacteria.

Antibacterial soaps have properties that kill bacteria. Using antibacterial soaps will enhance the effectiveness of hand washing, but will not be effective if the hand wash procedure is not followed.

If you are going to be in a location without running water, bring a gallon jug of water for hand washing, moist towelettes, paper towels and soap. Even if you cannot do a thorough hand wash, a simple or modified hand wash will provide some protection and is preferable to no hand washing at all.

Clean Kitchen

Never allow raw meat, poultry and fish to come in contact with other foods.

Cutting Boards

If a cutting board is used to cut raw meat, poultry or fish and is going to be used to chop more food, first wash it with soap and hot water, then sanitize it with a mild bleach solution.

Dishes

When washing dishes by hand, it's best to wash them all within two hours. Don't let them sit and soak too long. Also, it's best to air-dry them so you don't handle them while they're wet.

Sinks

According to the FDA, your kitchen sink drain, disposal and connecting pipe should be sanitized periodically by pouring down the sink a solution of 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of chlorine bleach in 1 quart (about 1 liter) of water or a solution of commercial kitchen cleaning agent made according to product directions. Food particles get trapped in the drain and disposal and, along with the moistness, create an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

Cleaners

According to the FDA, bleach and commercial kitchen cleaning agents are the best sanitizers—provided they're diluted according to product directions. They're the most effective at getting rid of bacteria. Hot water and soap does a good job, too, but may not kill all strains of bacteria. Water alone may get rid of visible dirt, but not bacteria.

Also, be sure to keep dishcloths and sponges clean because, when wet, these materials harbor bacteria and may promote their growth.

Thawing

Food must be kept at a safe temperature while thawing. When frozen, foods are safe indefinitely. However, as soon as food begins to defrost, any bacteria present before freezing can begin to grow again.

Safe Defrosting Methods

Do not thaw meat, poultry and fish products on the counter or in the sink without cold water; bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature. A package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter more than two hours, or overnight is not at a safe temperature. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, the outer layer of the food is in "the danger zone" between 40° F and 140° F — at a temperature when bacteria multiply rapidly.

There are three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave. When defrosting frozen foods, it's best to plan ahead and thaw food in the refrigerator where food will remain at a safe, constant temperature — 40° F or below.

Refrigerator Thawing

When thawing foods in the refrigerator, there are several variables to take into account.

  • Some areas of an appliance may keep the food colder than others. Food placed in the coldest part will require longer defrosting time.
  • Frozen turkeys in refrigerators with glass shelves seem to require longer defrosting time than in refrigerators with wire shelves.
  • Food takes longer to thaw in a refrigerator set at 35° F than one set at 40° F.
  • After thawing in the refrigerator, ground meat and poultry should remain safe for an additional day or two before cooking, red meat, 3 to 5 days.
  • Foods defrosted in the refrigerator can be refrozen without cooking although there may be some loss of quality.

Cold Water Thawing

This method of thawing is faster than refrigerator thawing but requires more attention.

  • First be sure the food is in a leak-proof package or plastic bag.
  • If the bag leaks, bacteria from the air or surrounding environment could be introduced into the food. Tissues can also absorb water like a sponge, resulting in a watery product.
  • Immerse the bag in cold tap water.
  • Check the water frequently to be sure it stays cold.
  • Change the water every 30 minutes until the product is thawed.
  • After thawing, refrigerate the food until ready to use.
  • Foods thawed by the cold-water method should be cooked before refreezing.

Microwave Thawing

When microwave defrosting food, plan to cook it immediately after thawing because some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving. Holding partially cooked food is not recommended because any bacteria present wouldn't have been destroyed. Foods thawed in the microwave should be cooked before refreezing.

A package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter more than two hours, or overnight is not at a safe temperature. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, the outer layer of the food is in "the danger zone" between 40° F and 140° F — at a temperature when bacteria multiply rapidly.

Handling

Safe Cooking


Everyone knows that cooking food will kill harmful bacteria. But at what temperature should food be cooked and how do you know if the food is cooked to the proper temperature?

To kill harmful bacteria, the following minimum cooking temperatures are recommended:

  • Shell Eggs - 145° F for 15 seconds
  • Fish - 145° F for 15 seconds
  • Beef - 145° F for 15 seconds
  • Pork - 155° F for 15 seconds
  • Poultry - 165° F for 15 seconds
  • Ground Beef - 160° F for 15 seconds
  • Ground Meats - 160° F for 15 seconds
  • Stuffed Meats - 165° F for 15 seconds

Use a Thermometer!

Using a thermometer is the most accurate method to determine the temperature of food.

Thermometers can get out of calibration. If your thermometer is not accurate it should be discarded unless it can be re-calibrated. There are two methods to check the accuracy of your thermometer.

  • Bring a pot of water to boil and carefully dip the thermometer probe into it. (Be careful not to burn your hands, you may want to use an oven glove). The thermometer should read 212° F or 100° C while the probe is in the water.
  • Make an ice slush solution using crushed ice and water and dip the thermometer probe into it. The thermometer should read 32° F or 0° C. Most thermometers are designed to be within +/- 2° F.

What type of thermometer should I use?

There are two types of thermometers generally available.

  • The bimetallic thermometer, which does not have a battery, should be inserted into the food at least three inches. Leave the probe in the food for 30 seconds before reading the temperature.
  • The thermistor thermometer, which requires a battery, should be inserted into the food at least 1/2 inch. Leave the probe in the food for 15 seconds before reading the temperature.

What do I do if I don't have a thermometer?

Although not as accurate as a thermometer, using visual clues and understanding the cooking process can help you judge if the food has been cooked to a safe temperature.

  • Follow the cooking instructions, including temperature and time requirements, as indicated in a published cookbook.
  • Pre-heating an oven or grill is generally a good idea before cooking.
  • If red meat or poultry has juices that are red or bloody, that is a good indication the meat needs further cooking.
  • Don't rely on sight to determine the doneness of ground beef. For ground beef recipes, always use a thermometer. Recent research has shown that some ground beef may undergo "premature browning", meaning that the ground beef turns brown before it reaches a safe temperature.
  • Foods like sauces or soups that are brought to a boil or simmer (just below a boil) will have reached a safe temperature. Stir the food to ensure even heating throughout the product.

Cooking thermometers are available at your local Price Chopper.

Reheating

Reheat your foods thoroughly to 165° F until hot and steaming. If reheating gravy, bring it to a rolling boil.

Microwaving

Inadequate heating in the microwave can contribute to illnesses. If reheating, cover the food and rotate it so it heats evenly. For packaged foods, follow directions, including the standing time in or out of the microwave, after cooking. Microwave cooking creates pockets of heat in the food, but allowing the food to stand before eating allows the heat to spread to the rest of the food.

Consult your microwave owner's manual for complete instructions.

Cooking

Meat Safety


Ground Meat and ground poultry are more perishable than most foods. In the danger zone between 40° and 140° F, bacteria can multiply rapidly. Since you can't see, smell or taste bacteria, keep the products cold to keep them safe.

Safe Storage

  • Set your refrigerator at 40° F or colder and your freezer at 0° F or colder.
  • Keep uncooked ground meat and ground poultry in the refrigerator, cook or freeze within 1 to 2 days.
  • Use or freeze cooked meat and poultry stored in the refrigerator within 3 to 4 days.
  • For best quality, store frozen raw ground meats no longer than 3 to 4 months; cooked meats, 2 to 3 months.

Cold Storage Times for Ground Meat and Ground Poultry Refrigerator (40° F or below)

  • Uncooked ground meat and ground poultry (bulk or patties) - 1 to 2 days
  • Cooked ground meat and ground poultry (hamburgers, meat loaf and dishes containing ground meats) - 3 to 4 days

Freezer (0° F or below)

  • Uncooked ground meat and ground poultry (bulk or patties) - 3 to 4 months
  • Cooked ground meat and ground poultry(hamburgers, meat loaf and dishes containing ground meats) - 2 to 3 months

Safe Handling

  • Choose ground meat packages that are cold and tightly wrapped. The meat surface exposed to air will be red; interior of fresh meat will be dark.
  • Put refrigerated and frozen foods in your grocery cart last and make the grocery store your last stop before home.
  • Pack perishables in an ice chest if it will take you more than an hour to get home.
  • Place ground meat and ground poultry in the refrigerator or freezer immediately.
  • Defrost frozen ground meats in the refrigerator - never at room temperature. If microwave defrosting, cook immediately

Safe Cooking

  • Cooking kills harmful bacteria. Be sure ground meat and ground poultry are cooked thoroughly.
  • The center of patties and meat loaf should not be pink and the juices should run clear.
  • Crumbled ground meats should be cooked until no pink color remains.
  • Ground meat patties and loaves are safe when they reach 160° F in the center; ground poultry patties and loaves, 165° F. Cook it evenly.
  • During broiling, grilling, or cooking on the stove, turn meats over at least once. When baking, set oven no lower than 325° F.
  • If microwaving, cover meats. Midway through cooking, turn patties over and rotate the dish, rotate a meat loaf; and stir ground meats once or twice. Let microwaved meats stand to complete cooking process.
  • After cooking, refrigerate leftovers immediately.
  • Separate into small portions for fast cooling.
  • To reheat all leftovers, cover and heat to 165° F or until hot and steaming throughout.

Internal Temperatures for Safe Cooking

  • Uncooked ground meat - 160° F
  • Uncooked ground poultry - 165° F
  • All cooked leftovers, reheated - 165° F

Safe Cleaning

  • Keep everything clean--hands, utensils, counters, cutting boards and sinks. That way, your food will stay as safe as possible.
  • Always wash hands thoroughly in hot soapy water before preparing foods and after handling raw meat.
  • Don't let raw meat or poultry juices touch ready-to-eat foods either in the refrigerator or during preparation.
  • Don't put cooked foods on the same plate that held raw or poultry.
  • Wash utensils that have touched raw meat with hot, soapy water before using them for cooked meats.
  • Wash counters, cutting boards and other surfaces raw meats have touched. And don't forget to keep the inside of your refrigerator clean.
Meat

Egg Safety


Eggs are a perishable food and must be properly stored and cooked. Raw eggs that were contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis bacteria have caused outbreaks of foodborne illness. Most outbreaks appear to be related to pooling (commingling) of eggs, time/temperature abuse, and incomplete cooking.

Proper refrigeration at 40° F or below limits the growth of Salmonella enteritidis and proper cooking at 140° F or above destroys the organism. Therefore, consumers must follow safe food-handling practices when preparing eggs.

Special precautions are needed when eggs are served to people who are particularly vulnerable to Salmonella enteritidis infections. High-risk groups are the very young, the elderly, pregnant women (because of risk to the fetus), and people already weakened by serious illness or whose immune systems are weakened.

Follow these precautions when handling both raw eggs and foods in which eggs are an ingredient, such as quiche or baked custard.

At Risk Foods

Avoid eating raw eggs and foods containing raw eggs:

  • Homemade Caesar salad
  • Homemade hollandaise sauce
  • Homemade mayonnaise
  • Homemade ice cream
  • Homemade eggnog should be avoided unless made with a cooked, custard-type base.

Commercial forms of these products are safe to serve since they are made with pasteurized liquid eggs. Commercial pasteurization destroys Salmonella bacteria.

Cooking

  • Cook eggs or egg-containing food products to at least 140° F (60° C) to kill bacteria.
  • Cook eggs thoroughly until both the yolk and the white are firm. This is especially important for people most at risk for foodborne illness.
  • Those electing not to consume hard-cooked eggs can minimize their risk by cooking the egg until the white is completely firm and the yolk begins to thicken but is not hard.
  • Fried eggs should be cooked on both sides or in a covered pan. Scrambled eggs should be cooked until firm throughout.
  • Realize that eating lightly cooked foods containing eggs, such as meringues, and French toast, may be risky for people in high-risk groups.
  • If you want to sample homemade dough or batter or eat other foods with raw-egg-containing products, consider substituting pasteurized eggs for raw eggs. Pasteurized eggs are usually sold in the grocer's refrigerated dairy case.

Buying, Storing and Handling

  • Buy refrigerated grade AA or A eggs with clean, uncracked shells.
  • At home, keep eggs in their original carton and refrigerate as soon as possible at a temperature no higher than 40° F.
  • Do not wash eggs before storing or using them. Washing is a routine part of commercial egg processing and rewashing is unnecessary.
  • Use raw shell eggs within 5 weeks after bringing them home.
  • Use hard-cooked eggs (in the shell or peeled) within 1 week after cooking.
  • Use leftover yolks and whites within 4 days after removing them from the shell.
  • Avoid keeping raw or cooked eggs and egg-containing foods out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours, including time for preparing and serving (but not cooking).
  • If you hide hard-cooked eggs for an egg hunt, either follow the 2-hour rule or do not eat the eggs.
  • Wash hands, utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after they come in contact with eggs and egg-containing foods.
  • Review traditional recipes that, when served, contain raw or under-cooked eggs. Replace with recipes that, when served, contain thoroughly cooked eggs.
  • Serve cooked eggs and egg-containing foods hot, immediately after cooking; or hold for buffet-style serving at 140° F or higher; or refrigerate at 40 F or below for serving later. Use within 3-4 days.
  • When refrigerating a large amount of a hot egg-containing food or leftover, divide it into several shallow containers so it will cool quickly.
Eggs

Entertaining Safely


Price Chopper has created a program that gives even more value to your total benefits package with discounts on health and fitness, as well as car rentals and vacations. We even have a special program on mortgages and/or the sale of your house! We want the best for our teammates, and we're here to help you get the most out of life, both at work and at home.

Here are some helpful hints to assure that your party is a memorable one, but not for the wrong reasons.

  • Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
  • Keep your kitchen, dishes and utensils clean.
  • Always serve food on clean plates, not those previously holding raw meat and poultry.
  • Divide cooked foods into small shallow containers to store in the refrigerator or freezer until serving.
  • Reheat hot foods to 165° F.
  • Arrange and serve food on several small platters rather than on one large platter. Keep the rest of the food hot in the oven or cold in the refrigerator until serving time.

Buffet Service

If you are cooking foods ahead of time for your buffet, be sure to cook foods thoroughly to safe temperatures. Cook fresh roast beef to at least 145° F for medium rare and 160° F for medium doneness. Bake whole poultry to 180° F and poultry breasts to 170° F. Ground poultry should be cooked to 165° F. All other meat, fish and ground red meats should be cooked to 160° F.

Hot foods should be held at 140° F or warmer. On the buffet table you can keep hot foods hot with chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Cold foods should be held at 40° F or colder. Keep foods cold by nesting dishes in bowls of ice. Otherwise, you should use small serving trays and replace them often. Replace empty platters rather than adding fresh food to a dish that already had food on it.

Foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours. Keep track of how long foods have been sitting on the buffet table and discard anything there two hours or more. If the buffet is held outdoors, and the outside temperature is above 85° F, then the holding time is reduced to one hour.

When the party's over, discard any foods that remained on the buffet table for more than 2 hours.

Picnics, Tailgate Parties, & Other Occasions

When meals are purchased to eat at a later time, like a picnic, sporting event, or outdoor buffet, a cooler with ice is a practical alternative to a refrigerator. The cooler should be well insulated and packed with ice or freezer packs. Remember the 2-hour rule when food is removed from the cooler.

Entertaining Safely

Handling Food Safely on the Go


V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! Oh, how we long for that eight-letter word every summer, when millions of us eagerly get away from school and work. No matter where we go or what we do, there is a common denominator that runs through all of our summer travels and relaxation — it's called F-O-O-D!

Plan Ahead

If you are traveling longer than 30 minutes, pack perishable foods directly from the refrigerator or freezer into a cooler with ice or freezer packs. Meat and poultry may be packed while still frozen; it stays colder longer. Also, a full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled. Be sure to keep raw meat and poultry wrapped separately from cooked or foods meant to be eaten raw, such as fruits.

If the cooler is only partially filled, pack the remaining space with more ice or with fruit and some non-perishable foods such as peanut butter and jelly and perhaps some hard-like Cheddar cheeses. For long trips, take along two coolers — one for the day's immediate food needs, such as lunch, drinks or snacks, and the other for perishable foods to be used later in the vacation.

Keep the cooler in the air-conditioned passenger compartment of your car, rather than in a hot trunk. Limit the times the cooler is opened. Open and close the lid quickly. When carrying drinks, consider packing them in a separate cooler so the food cooler is not opened frequently.

Camping, Boating or at the Beach

Plan ahead. Take along only the amount of food that can be eaten to avoid having leftovers. If grilling, make sure local ordinances allow it.

Make sure the all-important cooler is along. Remember to keep the cooler in a shady spot. Keep it covered with a blanket, tarp or poncho, preferably one that is light in color to reflect heat, or partially bury it in the sand.

Don't let perishable food sit out for more than two hours. The time frame is reduced to just one hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees F.

Bring along bottled water or other canned or bottled drinks. Always assume that streams and rivers are not safe for drinking. If in a remote area, bring along water purification tablets or equipment. These are available at camping supply stores.

Keep hands and all utensils clean when preparing food. Use disposable towelettes to clean hands. When planning meals, think about buying and using shelf-stable food to ensure food safety.

Now, about that "catch" of fish -- assuming the big one did not get away. For fin fish: scale, gut and clean the fish as soon as they are caught. Wrap both whole and cleaned fish in watertight plastic and store on ice. Keep 3-4 inches of ice on the bottom of the cooler, then alternate layers of fish and ice. Cook the fish in 1-2 days, or freeze and use it within 6 months. After cooking, eat within 3-4 days. Make sure the raw fish stays separate from cooked foods.

Crabs, lobsters and other shellfish must be kept alive until cooked. Store in a bushel or laundry basket under wet burlap. Crabs and lobsters are best eaten the day they are caught. Live oysters can keep 7-10 days; mussels and clams, 4-5 days.

Caution: Be aware of the potential dangers of eating raw shellfish. This is especially true for persons with liver disorders or weakened immune systems. However, no one should do so.

If dining out, say along the boardwalk, make sure the food stands frequented look clean, and that hot foods are served hot and cold foods cold. Don't eat anything that has been sitting out in the hot sun -- a real invitation for foodborne illness and a spoiled vacation.

Vacation Home or in the RV

If a vacation home or a recreational vehicle has not been used for a while, check leftover canned food from last year. The Meat and Poultry Hotline recommends that canned foods exposed to freezing and thawing temperatures over the winter be discarded.

Also, check the refrigerator. If unplugged from last year, thoroughly clean it before using. Make sure all food preparation areas in the vacation home or in the recreational vehicle are thoroughly cleaned.

Foods on the Go

In today's busy world, convenience foods, including complete meals-to-go, are very popular. Some would even say a necessity. While most of these foods are consumed immediately, others are purchased and eaten at a later time. Remember that all food is perishable and can cause illness when mishandled, even if it's been cooked. Proper handling is essential to ensure the food is safe, so keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold! When in doubt, throw it out!

On the Go

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