Safer Food Shopping

Spinach, peanut butter, and burgers. These are just a few of the potentially deadly foods that have been recalled in recent years. Every year an estimated 5,000 people in the U.S. die from food-borne illnesses, and at least 76-million people are sickened.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart says how you handle food, beginning at the grocery store, can make a difference.

Today, Rylee Gustafson is a healthy 12-year-old. But three years ago she almost died after eating a spinach salad contaminated with E-coli.

Gustafson says, "It was very serious. Most of the time I was on machines and I was unconscious."

In Rylee's case, washing the spinach would probably not have been enough to keep her safe. But cooking spinach can kill bacteria.

Mandy Walker of Consumer Reports ShopSmart says there are many things you can do to help protect yourself, starting with "Smarter food shopping."

Walker says, "Many people know the importance of safe food handling at home, especially with meat or poultry. But how you shop can help minimize your risk of food-borne illnesses, too."

Your first move, head to the middle of the store for non-perishables and foods that don't need to be refrigerated.

Save things that need to be kept cold-like eggs...meat...and deli -for the end.

And the colder, the better, so reach into the back of the case to make your selections.

And you need to treat raw meat and poultry as if it's contaminated-because it might be-so bag it separately without touching the package.

Walker says, "In general it's also a good idea to avoid any packages that are leaking juices, because that's a way bacteria can be spread."

Pick up frozen foods last, reaching in to the back of the freezer case, where items are usually the most frozen.

And in hot weather, consider putting your perishables in a cooler bag with an ice pack-for an extra measure of food-safety protection.

When you're in the produce department, keep a sharp eye out for bruised fruits and veggies.

Soft spots are breeding grounds for contamination.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to shopping safely.

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