It’s our biggest kitchen-related dilemma after figuring out what’s for dinner. Is that food in the fridge still okay to use, or should it be tossed?
The answer may surprise you. Because while it’s obvious that meat and poultry have a short shelf life (more on that in a minute), what’s not so clear are those other items that tend to hang around the kitchen longer.
Keep it or toss it?
Take mayo, for example. Food experts say that an open jar of mayonnaise is perfectly fine in the fridge for up to three months. But pasta sauce on the other hand needs to be used within five days after opening the jar.
Opened condiments such as ketchup should be okay for up to six months, while experts say mustard will last around a year in the fridge and even several months in the pantry.
As for other perishables that may be lurking in your fridge, here are a few recommendations:
Unopened yogurt kept properly chilled should still be fine up to 10 days past the “sell-by” date. Once the carton is opened, it should still taste good for 7-10 days and remain safe to eat until the expiration date. But, of course, if you see any hint of mold (which usually forms around the lid), toss it.
Hard or semi-hard cheese that’s been opened can last from three to six weeks in the fridge. However, if it’s sliced, it stays good for only a couple weeks. Of course, any cheese that’s not wrapped tight enough will turn hard and unappetizing very quickly.
Surprisingly, even beer has its limits. While it doesn’t actually spoil, depending on the kind of brew it is, flavors can break down after as little as four to six months.
As for more perishable items, such as raw ground meats, poultry and seafood, the USDA advices that you shouldn’t keep them past a day or two. For raw roasts, steaks, and chops (beef, veal, lamb, and pork), three to five days is the limit. And if meat, poultry or seafood is cooked, it can keep up to three to four days.
Jenny Thompson is the Director of the Health Sciences Institute and editor of the HSI e-Alert. Through HSI, she and her team uncover important health information and expose ridiculous health misinformation, most notably through the HSI e-Alert.
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