Prevent Foodborne Diseases With These 4 Tips

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thermoform packagingEvery year, about 48 million Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illnesses. Living in the U.S., we often take our clean water and clean food as a given, never imagining that the fresh produce, pasteurized goods, and packaged meat we buy at the grocery store could hurt us.


Of course, a lot of strict regulations and high standards are in place to ensure that commercially manufactured and sold foods are safe for consumption. However, accidents do happen as a result of human error, mechanical failure, or even poor food packaging containers. To avoid foodborne diseases, practice the following precautions.

  1. Take note of the sell-by date 
    We often assume that because an item is still on the shelf at the store, it must be fresh. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Grocery stores make mistakes, forgetting to remove expired foods. Before you purchase or consume an item, check the expiration or sell-by date.
  2. Examine the packaging 
    Some manufacturers use food vacuum pouches to eliminate air from the packaging. However, if the container doesn’t appear to be sealed tightly or you notice that it has holes, the packaging isn’t doing its job. It’s possible that the food packaging machines did not properly seal the pouch, possibly introducing harmful contaminants to the product. Of course, food containers like thermoform packaging aren't supposed to be airtight, but they should still be securely shut.
  3. Examine the item
    If the product is sealed with thermoform packaging, you should be able to visually inspect the item for signs of mold or contamination. Fruits and vegetables, baked goods, and other fresh foods are often shipped in thermoform packaging. Just like you would open up a carton of eggs to make sure none of them are cracked, check the food before purchase. Remember to look at the bottom of the package, where mold often grows first.
  4. Store items properly 
    Sometimes the contamination doesn’t occur during the packaging or manufacturing process. Harmful bacteria can also be introduced to the food because of your own handling and storage mistakes. For instance, you must be careful not to leave perishable items out of the refrigerator for too long. As soon as you leave the grocery store, head home and put these foods in the fridge immediately to keep them from spoiling.

Foodborne illnesses can be prevented as long as you know how to handle your food and what kinds of warning signs to look for. Always purchase items that are sealed properly and make sure you refrigerate perishable items at the correct temperature.