When selected, handled and cooked appropriately, beef is an excellent, delicious addition to a balanced diet. Beef offers essential nutrients of a healthy diet, including lean protein, iron, zinc and B vitamins, which most Americans aren't currently consuming enough of. Beef can be purchased at the butcher or the grocery store, but wherever possible, it is best to look for beef that has been raised and processed locally and as organically as possible. If selected from the refrigerator case, get the beef home and stored appropriately as soon as possible; if selected from the freezer case, the beef does not need to be stored away as quickly, but should still be put back in a freezer or refrigerator within 30 minutes. When purchasing, be sure to inspect the "sell by" and "best by" dates on the packaging. All fresh beef should be cooked and eaten within the first two days of purchase. All refrigerated beef should be cooked and eaten within two and five days. Frozen beef lasts up to three months when kept in a freezer. It is best to make sure that all frozen beef is labeled before being stored away, to ensure it is not kept past the three month mark. If there is any question about the age of beef, fresh, refrigerated, or frozen, throw it out. It is not worth risking foodborne illness over expired beef. When cooking, there are different thresholds of "doneness" for beef. Roasts should be cooked to a temperature between 145 and 160 degree Fahrenheit. Steaks should be cooked to at least 145 degrees as well. Ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees and until no pink, soft spots are visible. When in doubt, it is best to cook beef to at least its "medium" temperature, with only a slight tinge of pink. With the correct handling practices, beef can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet, paired well with fresh or grilled vegetables and a moderate side of rice or pasta.