When you go to the grocery store, you may not be thinking about the possibility of germs or tampered food items. But, health officials say, you should always practice the basics of food handling to avoid health risks.

We've all heard about the teen girl licking Blue Bell ice cream and putting it back in the freezer at a grocery store in Texas. A copy cat was recently spotted doing the same thing in Louisiana. When you go to the grocery store, you should follow basic shopping guidelines to protect your health.

Before you purchase any sort of food item, make sure you inspect the package. The food package should not have any holes, tears, or openings. When it comes to frozen foods, they should be solid with no signs of thawing. Of course, refrigerated foods should feel cold. Be sure to also check the safety seals. If you come across a loose jar lid, the product may be contaminated.

Here are some other food safety shopping tips:

  • Make sure the store is clean and follows food safety regulations.
  • Use hand sanitizer to wipe your hands and the shopping cart handle.
  • If you have a reusable bag, clean it every month.
  • Make sure you shop in order. Non-perishable items first. Frozen and deli items last.
  • Pay close attention to dairy products. Make sure the eggs are not cracked.
  • Bag meat of any kind separately.
  • Don't purchase produce with mold, bruises, or cuts.

Once you're done shopping, go home and put your groceries away immediately. You don't want to leave your food out for more than two hours, or one hour in hot weather.

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