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When bagging groceries,·don’t bag a foodborne illness

In an effort to be “green,” households are switching from disposable grocery bags to those that are reusable. While this can help reduce waste, it is important to remember that reusable bags can get dirty or contaminated with germs that can make us sick. If contaminated bags are_used to carry food, then the food being carried could also become contaminated. Stay healthy and “green” while keeping your bags de.an by following the advice below.

1. Wash reusable bags often. The way to wash your bags depends on how they are made.

* Cloth bags can be washed in the washing machine with detergent and hot water. Dry the bags in the dryer or turn them inside out and let them hang until completely dry.

* Non-woven polypropylene and-recycled PET bags can be washed in the washing machine but this will shorten the life of the bag. Another option is to hand wash them in warm soapy water. Don’t put them in the dryer. Instead, turn them inside out and hang them where they can dry completely.

* Nylon baq,s should be hand washed in warm soapy water. Turn them inside out, hang, and let them hang until they are completely dry.

2. Assign specific bags for meat, produce, ready-to-eat foods, and non­ food items. Use bags that can be easily identified with a specific type of food. For example, use a green bag for produce or a bag that has a special design for meat or other ready-to-eat foods. When checking out at the grocery store, separate these foods to avoid cross-contamination and be sure to let the cashier know which bags to use.

3. Put raw meat/poultry into a disposable plastic bag before you put it in the reusable bag. This will keep the juices from the meat and poultry from spilling inside the reusable bag. Once home, refrigerate or freeze the meat right away and throw away the disposable bag.

4. Store reusable bags properly. Keep them clean, dry and away from dirt, chemicals and other contaminants to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.

Pork and Spinach Salad

Servings 4

Ingredients

• 4 cups fresh baby spinach

• 1 cup sliced strawberries

• 1/3 cup diced cucumbers

• 1/2 lb cooked, diced pork tenderloin

• 1/4 cup dried carnberries

• 1/4 cup diced nectarines

• 1/2 cup sliced red onion

• 1/4 cup roasted glazed pecan pieces

• 1/4 cup crumbled bleu cheese

Instructions

1. Add all ingredients and mix well. Top with your favorite dressing.

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