TIL that more than 90 percent of consumers have thrown away food because of mistaken safety fears over date labels. The dates printed on food are not intended to communicate safety information, instead they signal the manufacturer’s estimate of how long that food will taste its best.
Well maybe they should add a second date for consumers because my paranoid ass thinks food is deadly poison once that date passes.
The bad news is that there are so many variables, the actual point at which your food spoils and makes you sick could differ by days, weeks, even months for the same exact item from the same exact batch.
The other bad news is that companies would rather you throw it away too soon so you’ll buy it again anyway.
Depending on the food though, there are some rules of thumb:
- Always err on caution with fresh meat, which should be used within a day of purchase.
- Use your nose for dairy. Cheeses tend to last until they go moldy, milk is fine until it tastes or smells off.
- Appearance and texture are reliable indicators for produce; if fruits or veggies still look and feel fresh, then they’re fine.
- Most preserved foods, pickles, canned meats, candy, etc. are safe for YEARS until opened, they just might not taste as good.
- Eggs are only bad once they smell bad; they can actually last weeks beyond their date, sometimes months, especially eggs that have never been washed of their outer membrane.
- Before mold growth is actually visible, moldy baked goods will smell sharper. Generally however, they will go stale first, so throw them out then.
- Meat, dairy, and wet leftover pasta products are the ones that can make you violently ill. Old enough wet pasta or rice can even just kill some people dead in minutes. Otherwise, you’re only risking “discomfort” (heartburn, stomachache) with most other foods.
No you don’t need to use meat with in a day. Between one and five days, depending on the type of meat, whether it’s been frozen or not, how fresh it was when you bought it, and how you’re storing it.
Meat on the turn won’t necessarily smell bad but it will smell strong in a way fresh meat doesn’t. It will also often feel slightly sticky or unusually slimy to the touch, and you may be able to see mold starting to appear (you know when you cut into a sweet potato and starch will appear as white spots on the cut part, the mould generally looks like that but slimier). The best way to learn the difference is just to pay attention when you’re cooking with fresh meat, including handling it, so you know when something is different.
Different meats also keep for different amounts of time - generally any meat that is commonly hung (aged) such as beef or venison will keep longer than meat that isn’t. Pork and poultry, especially white fleshed poultry like chicken, keeps the least time. Dark red meat like beef keeps the longest.
Also smoked or salted meats generally keep longer, that’s the point of the smoking/salting.
If you’re not certain, err on the side of caution, or ask a more experienced cook, but don’t think you have to throw out meat that looks, feels and smells fine because it’s 2 days old.
Also you can test if an egg is bad by putting it in a bowl of water. If it floats there’s a build up if gas in it and it’s bad. If it just sinks it’s very fresh, and if it sinks but stands up on its end it’s safe but will go off soon so needs using up or chucking. Some recipes, especially older cake recipes, will specifically call for eggs which are a few days old because they work better.
Oh and finally, you can fuck around which wheat bread, you’ll be fine, but be more careful with gluten free bread, it’s generally made with at least some rice flour which can be much worse for you if it goes bad. Just don’t fuck around with rice in general, it’s the most common cause of food poisoning in western countries.
My family freezes chicken and lamb as soon as we get home and it lasts like, weeks? Is this 1 and 5 days talking about if you don’t freeze it?