You Will Be Surprised Knowing That This Doesn’t Really Make Your Food Safer

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola

In the wake of ever-growing food recalls due to salmonella, E. coli, listeria and other deadly contamination in fresh and frozen foods, Men’s Health is taking a look at the packaging that these foods come in. You might be surprised, but that precut produce in a sealed bag not only is more expensive, but it can be contaminated too.

As for the rest: Many times the packaging is simply for the convenience of the retailer, mostly to prevent bruising and to extend the products’ shelf life. In other words, those plastic, Styrofoam and cellophane containers that eventually end up in landfills and even our oceans, are nothing but convenience packaging for retailers — not consumers.

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To begin with, congratulations if your goal is to buy fresh foods, as processed foods laden with added sugars and artificial ingredients will never get you on the road to good health. But beyond that, there are several things you can do to ensure that what you’re buying is properly packaged. And from that end, the only “packaging” the best foods need is what they come in: their own skins and rinds.

You probably already know to shop the perimeters of the store — where fresh foods are usually located — and to zero in on the organics sections, be it meats or produce. But once you’ve filled your grocery list for the week, how do you keep those foods fresh at home? The answer is, if you know how to store them, you’ll be less likely to end up throwing them away.

You may have noticed that a bruised apple will spoil faster. That's ethylene at work. The key to preventing ethylene-emitting foods from spoiling the ones that don't emit ethylene is to store them separately; keep potatoes away from onions and apples away from bananas, for instance.

Eat berries as soon as possible or refrigerate them. If a few are mushy, remove them, and if they get wet, blot them with a paper towel or cloth. Don't wash berries until just before you eat them.

Freezing berries can save them from spoilage and stop mold growth. Rinsing them in a vinegar solution may also help to kill mold spores and keep the berries fresh.

Some of the best food advice you'll ever get: avoid refrigerating tomatoes (and potatoes, garlic and winter squash). They lose their texture and become tasteless, pithy and watery. Also, don't store them someplace chilly or even cold, like a back porch when the temperature dips. Even before harvest, tomatoes don't tolerate chill.

Also, don’t store produce near a gas stove, smoky area (including cigarette smoke) or high heat such as near a fireplace, as these can speed up the ripening process.

Don't let produce that's gone bad sit in your refrigerator. Remove it as soon as possible to prevent other foods from spoiling as well. Also keep your refrigerator clean, and make sure the produce drawers are free of humidity to keep everything crisp.

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