This guide is for Safe and Nutritious Food at Home. Healthy and safe eating begins with choosing what foods you buy. So, let us start with buying food from the market. This article has Eight sections. The details are given below:
Selecting and Purchasing Food
Do’s and Dont’s of Selecting and Purchasing Food Items
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
- Fresh seasonal and locally available vegetables and fruits at the right stage of maturity
- Green leafy vegetables that are crisp and fresh. The darker the colour, the better it is in terms of nutritional benefits.
- Fruits that are firm to touch, unblemished, fresh and clean. In case of citrus fruits, choose juicy and succulent ones, which are heavy for their size.
- Root and tubers that are firm to touch.
- Overripe, blemished/darkened, bruised or insect infested vegetables and fruits
- Green leafy vegetables with wilted or yellow leaves, mushy texture, unpleasant odour, slimy, fuzzy or moldy growth.
- Fruits that are pulpy, shriveled and overripe/rotting
EGGS, MEAT POULTRY & FISH
- Eggs with Shells that are clean and intact
- Fish with Gills that are intact, bright and pink in colour
- Fish with clear eyes and flesh that bounces back when pressed with a finger.
- Meat that has pink flesh
- Lean meat with less cartilage and bone
- If purchasing pre-cut or packaged meat, check the temperature of the chilled storage unit
- Check that the ‘Best before’ date has not lapsed
- Eggs with shell that are dirty and discoloured, or soiled with droppings
- Eggs with cracked shells
- Eggs that float in water
- Broken eggs with blood spot/meat spot/foul odour
- Fish with:
- Dull, sunken eyes
- Grey or green gills
- Foul odour
- Flabby flesh that separates from the bones
- Very few scales left on the flesh
- With flesh on which depression remains when pressed with a finger
- Meat and poultry with:
- Tough, fibrous flesh with more fat and bone
- Putrid smell
- Slimy appearance and touch
MILK AND MILK PRODUCTS
- Pasteurised milk and milk products, as they are safer
- Packaged and sealed milk or milk from authorised milk depots
- Fresh cheese and cottage cheese or paneer, preferably packaged and sealed, if purchasing from the market
- It is preferable to prepare curd at home.
- If purchasing packaged curd, check the date of manufacture and ensure that ‘best before’ date has not lapsed.
- Unpasteurised milk
- Milk that is discoloured, stringy, sour in taste or curdled, with unnatural odour
- Loose milk and curd
- Cheese and cottage cheese or paneer that is slimy to touch, has creamy yellowish discolouration, or bad odour
- If the packaging of the product is not sealed properly, or is puffed
- If ‘expiry date’ or ‘best before’ date on the packet has lapsed
- Buy only packaged frozen foods and check that the date of expiry has not lapsed.
- Thaw only as much quantity as you need
- Large amounts of ice crystals, discolouration, off smell
- If packaging is soiled, leaking or damaged
FATS, OILS, OIL SEEDS AND NUTS
- Preferably packaged fats, oils and ghee
- Preferably packaged oil seeds and nuts with packaging intact
- Oils sold loose, especially mustard oil
- Nuts and oil-seeds/powders with rancid smell
- Insect infested/mouldy groundnuts
PULSES AND CEREALS: WHEAT FLOUR (ATTA), RICE, SEMOLINA (SOOJI) ETC.
- Preferably packaged and sealed grains
- Fortified wheat flour and rice
- Even sized and clean grains
- Clumps, musty or cottony growth,
- Unpleasant odour
- Stones, dirt
- Insect infestation
PACKAGED/CANNED/ BOTTLED FOODS
- Intact packets
- Sealed bottles
- Foods with uniform colour and consistency
- Check dates of manufacture and expiry
- Deflated packets (with less air), suspended impurities, dented, bulging, and leaking packets/cans.
- Packets having contents with putrid smell, brine/ syrup, or which look cloudy/ bubbly or slimy.