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Worried about the Food in Lebanon? Shop Safely

2/18/2015

Are you worried about the safety of the food you are buying? With all the news about hazardous food it can get overwhelming when shopping for your meals.  Here are 4 features to notice while shopping to avoid getting sick from risky foods!  

1- Dates

All products should be labeled with the appropriate expiration dates, these can be written in different ways: Sell-by, use-by, best before, or expiry date. What do these mean? 

Sell-by: Specifies how long the store can display the product for sale. Do not buy food after this date has passed. 

Use-by: Tells the consumer the last date that is recommended to use the product for best quality. Follow this date if it is written. 

Expiry date: Food should be discarded after the expiry date; it may not have the same nutrient content written on the label. 

Best before: This indicates the date that is recommended for best quality or flavor, however it is not a safety date, and can still be used after this date has passed, if it has not yet expired. It tells you how ‘fresh’ the product is. 

2- Color & Appearance

Color is a main factor when purchasing meat. Color is affected by the animal’s upbringing and storage of the product. 

Fresh meat is a purple-red color when protected from air usually in vacuum packages. It can change into a cherry-red color (when exposed to air), and a brown-red color (when exposed to light). These color changes don’t mean that the meat is spoiled. 

Raw chicken color can range from bluish-white to yellow depending on the animal feed. 

Meat is spoiled when the color change is a faded or darkened. At the same time both meat and chicken will have an odor and feel sticky or slimy. These indicate spoilage and should not be purchased. 

Spoiled ground meat will have a brown-grey color at the surface and all the way through. 

Do not buy meat or chicken in packages that contain a lot of liquid or juice, this could mean that they have not been stored at the correct chilled temperature or for too long. 

3- Damage 

Check your foods carefully for any tears, leak, dents, and bruises.  Don’t buy any products that have been opened or damaged, these can lead to bacteria entering the food. 

Do not buy food that has mold growth on it (unless it is supposed to be there, like some cheeses). 

Pay attention to the temperature. Simply, cold foods should be cold and frozen foods should be frozen. For example, make sure there are no signs of defrosting when buying frozen foods to make sure temperature changes have not affected the product. 

4- Hygiene

When buying food at the counters make sure cooked and raw meats are separated. 

Make sure the shop assistant washes their hands, changes gloves, and/or changes utensils when handling cooked and raw meat. 

Buy perishable items such as eggs and dairy, meats and frozen items at the end of your shopping trip, to make sure they stay cold as long as possible.    

Reminder

  1. Keep refrigerator temperature below 4° C and freezer temperature below 18° C.
  2. After purchasing a perishable, take it home and refrigerate or freeze it directly. Always refrigerate perishable items less than 2 hours after purchasing and even 1 hour during hot weather. 
  3. Store raw meat, fish, or chicken tightly covered at the bottom shelf of the fridge where they can’t drip onto other foods. 


Author: Massar Dabbous


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