University of Florida

Food Safety: Grocery Shopping

Whether it’s just a 10-minute run to the store or it’s time to stock up for the week, grocery shopping can be a routine chore or an exciting activity. Some shoppers plan their meals for the week and check items off a list, while others frantically push their carts up and down the aisles looking for what catches their eye.

Besides looking for what’s on sale or checking items off your list, have you considered how to safely buy and transport foods?

Use the following food safety tips to make sure you shop and transport your groceries correctly.


  • Plan ahead to know what you are buying—start by adding nonperishable items to your grocery cart first, and finish with the refrigerated and frozen sections.
  • Inspect canned goods for any dents, rust, or other damage.
  • Only buy healthy, undamaged fruits and vegetables, and be sure the fresh-cut produce is refrigerated.
  • Always check eggs to make sure they are refrigerated, clean, and not cracked.
  • Look out for expiration dates on items and know their various meanings.
  • Place heavy items on the bottom of the cart and soft foods, such as bread, on the top.
  • Wrap raw meats, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags and separate them from other items (such as fruits and vegetables) to avoid cross-contamination in the grocery cart, check-out counter, and in grocery bags.
  • Don’t buy items with torn or leaking packages. 


  • Go home to refrigerate or freeze perishable foods as soon as possible—don’t leave those foods in a hot car. 
  • If you know you can’t go straight home from the store, bring a cooler bag and store the perishable items in there. Remember to follow the two-hour rule and refrigerate meat, poultry, seafood, and other perishable items within that timeframe.
  • Maintain hot, ready-to-eat food temperatures by placing them in doubled paper bags.

While some feel grocery shopping is a mundane task, others look at it as a challenge to get the best deals—whatever the case may be, remember these food safety tips when shopping and transporting your groceries.

Adapted and excerpted from:

C. Peñuela and A. Simonne, “Keeping Food Safe: Shopping and Transporting Foods” (FCS80003), UF/IFAS Family, Youth and Community Sciences Department (03/2012).

raw food

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