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Now because we limit travel to grocery stores and food delivery can be few and far between, managing the food we already have is more important than ever. According to a recent study, the average American household disposes almost a third of the food purchased. Consumer Reports has several tips for reducing waste by keeping the food we buy fresher for longer.
Start with a refrigerator: Give room for new food before heading to the store or accepting delivery. Cool air that can circulate throughout the room will make your food the best. For optimal freshness, your refrigerator should be set at 37 degrees and the freezer at 0.
Go through your cupboard to check the “best by” date, and move the oldest food forward. You do not need to consider these dates as “discard” dates. “Best by” means food is probably the most delicious before a certain date, but that doesn’t mean it’s not safe to eat. You should check the food past this date to see if there are any signs of damage. If in doubt, throw it away.
Dry goods in your kitchen will last longer if you store them in airtight packaging. This will also help prevent bacteria and moisture. And when you freeze or cool food, wrap it tightly, then mark it with a date so you are more likely to use it first.
Food experts Consumer Reports say that to keep staples like bread longer, keep them away from the fridge. Bread can become stale faster in the refrigerator than if you store it in a cool, dry place. You can freeze it; wrap it tightly and put it in an airtight container or a resealable bag.
If you don’t think you will use milk before the expiration date, pour a little from the carton, then freeze the rest. It will last up to three months. You can even freeze eggs. So that the egg yolk does not harden and cannot be used, shake a little, then pour it into an airtight container. They will be stored well for about a year in your freezer.
Strawberries will be stored for about a week in the refrigerator if you remove the stems and place them in a single layer in a closed container.
Consumer Reports food experts want to remind you that frozen foods maintain their nutrition, so buying frozen products is a good way to reduce waste. Then use only what you need from the freezer, so you throw less.
Aside from worrying about having enough food at home and feeling anxious about shopping in a crowded supermarket, many people have concerns about their food during the coronavirus crisis.
James Rogers is a microbiologist and director of Research and Testing for Food Safety for Consumer Reports. He answered several questions.
Is food eaten raw, like fruits and vegetables, safe?
“We don’t have information that coronaviruses can be transferred from any type of food,” Rogers said, “so people are at low risk of getting coronavirus from that type of food.”
He said to be sure to wash fruits and vegetables when you bring them home with water and brush.
Does cooking kill the corona virus?
“Yes, all the information we get about coronavirus is heat sensitive,” Rogers said. “The World Health Organization has provided information that cooking must kill the corona virus as long as you cook food at the right temperature, you should be fine.”
That’s 145 degrees for pork, roast beef, steak and fish, 160 degrees for egg dishes and 165 degrees for poultry, casseroles and leftovers.
Can you get viruses from food packaging?
“All the information we have so far about packaging shows a very low risk of transmitting the corona virus from packing food to yourself,” Rogers said.
If you are very worried, he recommends that you delete your grocery store purchases with disinfecting cloths or transfer content to a new container. Be sure to store your groceries in the designated room in your kitchen and clean them after you finish, and then wash your hands.
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How about taking food from a local restaurant? Is the collection or delivery from the restaurant safe?
According to Rogers, that.
“We truly believe that this is the least risky way for you to get food, because you can keep your social distance,” Rogers said.
If you are worried about a container to take home, he recommends moving your food to a plate, disposing of the container and washing your hands.
And now it’s important to follow food safety measures that have been recommended for years, he said. Clean the food preparation area when you are finished, prevent cross-contamination, wash your hands before and after preparing food and store it in a perishable refrigerator and food scraps. You definitely don’t want to get a foodborne illness now and have to go to the hospital.