Parents select foods for their families according to taste and nutrition. Food is the fuel that health and vitality is built on. But good food becomes bad for your health if it goes beyond its expiration date. These simple food safety tips will help you to preserve your groceries and know when to throw them out!
Identifying spoiled food is relatively easy. It looks, smells and tastes horrible! Just a touch on the tongue and you will be spitting it out.
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I just threw away a half full carton of sour cream. It was covered with green furry mold. It was disgusting! No question about it, that sour cream had to go.
Tainted food, in its early stages, can be tricky to identify. It may look and smell just fine. That is why it is important to understand how to preserve your food and get rid of it before it becomes a health hazard. Commonly known as “food poisoning,” the repercussions of eating spoiled food can include nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.
Simple Food Safety Tips
Learn the terminology and become a label reader. There are three common expiration terms – and one not as common – that will give you a good place to start.
Use By Date – this is the expiration date. Consuming the product after the date is at your own risk and not a good idea.
Sell By Date – this date has a grace period built in. Grocers should not sell it after this date but the consumer can use it safely for several days afterward. This is often used on milk cartons.
Expiration Date – same as “use by,” this date tells you that the safety of this product “dies” that day. You should throw it away.
Packing Date – this one was somewhat new to me. My deli prints the date that they packaged sliced meats on the label. It tells you the day it was the freshest. Often the label will also include a use by or expiration date.
Knowing the dates is important but it is not the whole picture. Promptly bringing the food home and refrigerating it is also very important. Some products need swift refrigeration more than others. Dairy products, poultry and meats all should be treated with great care. Refrigerate quickly. Raw poultry, fish and meats should be frozen promptly if they are not going to be cooked within 24 hours. Refrigerate them until you cook.
Refrigerating leftovers is a common way to stretch the budget and get more for your money. When saving leftover food, it is important to refrigerate it right after the meal has been consumed. Leaving food out on the counter for lengths of time allows bacteria to grow. If you forget and leave it out, when you make the discovery throw that food away. It is not worth the risk!
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Foods That Make You Sick
Mayonnaise that is not properly refrigerated is known to be a cause of food poisoning. Why? It has eggs in it! Dishes with mayo in them go bad before you can taste it. That macaroni or potato salad at the potluck supper can go from wonderful to dangerous in the matter of hours, if it is not kept on ice.
How To Get Your Food To Last Longer
Proper food storage is the best way to get it to last longer.
- Store food in its original container whenever possible. The more it is moved from container to container, the more the possibility of bacteria contaminating it.
- Refrigerate or freeze any foods that are not sealed in a can or jar that has not been opened. Under most conditions, opening a jar means it must be placed in the refrigerator. READ THE LABEL. It will tell you to “refrigerate after opening.”
- Repackaging bulk quantities of food is OK but be sure to use clean, air-tight containers.
Remember the safety rule.
“When in doubt, throw it out!”
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