Food safety and shopping
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland has issued some important advice for consumers when shopping. When shopping for food, there are a number of things you should look out for.
You should never buy:
- Food from butchers or shop assistants if raw food and cooked food are not separated in the display counter. Similarly, you should not buy food items if the server handles raw meat or poultry and then handles cooked food using the same utensil or without washing their hands.
- Dairy products and other chilled or frozen food that is left out of fridges.
- Cracked eggs.
- Swollen chilled food packages and cans.
- Leaking cartons, cans, bottles or containers.
- Food products with broken or imperfect safety seals.
- Products with moulds, discolouration or infestation.
- Products in vacuum packs, e.g. rashers and other meat products, where the pack is not tightly sealed around the food.
Self-service salad bars
Salads should be displayed in a chilled dispenser unit to keep them fresh and each salad should have its own utensil.
Always use a container from the dispenser or stack of containers provided.
Never touch the food with your hands and do not sneeze or cough near the food. If you see anyone mis-handling the food, report it to a member of staff.
In addition, you should follow the supermarket's instructions carefully.
"Best before"/"Use by" dates
You should always check best before and use by dates on food, especially food with a short shelf life such as dairy products. The best before date is the date until which the food keeps its best properties, if stored properly. The use by date is a warning that the food should no longer be consumed or sold once the date mentioned is passed.
You should always choose refrigerated and frozen products such as meat, dairy products, deli products, ice cream and frozen meals towards the end of your shopping trip and keep them separated from hot food. You will not be subject to the Plastic Bag Environmental Levy if you use a smaller plastic bag to store meat, fish and poultry products, regardless of whether they are packaged or unpackaged. In addition, you will not be subject to the levy if you use plastic bags to store non-packaged food like dairy products, fruit, vegetables, nuts, confectionery, hot and cold cooked food and ice
You should avoid overloading your trolley as you may damage packaging.
Never leave your groceries in a warm car as germs multiply in warm temperatures. If you are travelling a long distance, place your chilled and frozen products into a cool bag or box for the journey home - these can be purchased from many supermarkets.
Storing food at home
When you get home, immediately pack chilled and frozen products into the fridge or freezer. Check the condition of frozen products and do not re-freeze them if they have thawed. You should make sure your fridge temperature is below 4°C.