Foods have a shelf life. Most food packaging is marked with an expiration date.
Common misconception is that food should not be consumed after the expiry date on the packaging.
The expiration dates are guidelines that will give you an idea of the peak quality and safety of certain foods.
Except for baby formula which must be used within a certain time, most other food items have some flexibility when it comes down to being thrown away.
Here is a list containing common food items, and information about how long they can be kept fresh past their expiration dates.
It doesn’t matter when an egg carton was purchased, it is safe to eat within three to five days.
Kevin Murphy, a food safety and sanitation expert who is also a professor at the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management, says that the date on the carton can be a good indicator of the eggs’ freshness.
Insider heard from him: “The closer you get to the date, the less fresh the eggs are going to be. But, just because you’ve hit that date or gone beyond it doesn’t mean that the eggs are necessarily bad.”
Hard-boiled eggs spoil faster, but can still be enjoyed for up to seven days if stored in the refrigerator.
Always check the egg to ensure it isn’t rotten.
Do the “float test” – If the egg tilts up or floats in the water, it is probably old. You can also give the egg a sniff to check for sulphur odors.
Most milk can last up to one week after its expiration date. It is important to remember that the fat content of milk will determine how long it lasts.
Nonfat milk can last between 7-10 days and whole milk five to seven day after it was opened. Non-diary milks, especially unopened, can last for up to one month.
Soiled milk will develop a lumpy texture and a strong odour. You should pay attention to the texture and give it a sniff to ensure that it’s still suitable for use.
Megan Wong RD, a registered Dietitian, says that packaged bread will keep fresh for 5 to 7 days after expiration. AlgaeCal.
Your bread should be kept dry and cool. You can freeze bread to extend its shelf-life beyond a few days. This will preserve the bread for at least 3 months.
You should always keep an eye on mould growth, especially if the bread is kept in moist areas.
Dry pasta can be stored for up to 2 years after the expiry date printed on the packet. However, fresh uncooked pasta can be eaten up to five days after the expiry date.
You can safely eat cooked pasta, whether it is fresh or dried, for seven days provided it is kept in the refrigerator. If stored in the freezer, it will last between 6-8 months.
Most cheeses last well past their expiration date. Parmesan, a hard cheese, has a low moisture content which makes it difficult to grow bacteria.
Sofia Norton, registered dietitian, says that some cheeses can develop white- or blue-green mold on the surface. However, this doesn’t mean it is fit for disposal.
She said: “Simply scrape off these moulds or even cut the parts affected and your hard cheese is again safe to consume.”
White mould is acceptable for certain types of cheeses like brie and camembert. Gourmet Cheese Detective. These soft cheeses are not suitable for coloured moulds, such as orange, blue, or green.
For blue cheeses, you can use brighter moulds but it should be spread in a consistent vein-pattern. You should ensure that it is not concentrated on one place.
Most breakfast cereals that are dry can last between four to six months. After being made, most cooked cereals such as oatmeal can be kept in the fridge for only four to five day.
The cereals can go stale if you don’t close the box. However, you won’t get sick by eating them.
Honey in its natural state is very moist so bacteria can’t survive. This means honey has a long shelf life.
Honey can become spoiled if exposed to moisture, even though it has been absorbed from air. But, just because honey crystallizes in a jar doesn’t necessarily mean that it has spoiled.
It could be that the honey molecules have separated from water, causing the grainy texture.
Raw meat, poultry and fresh fish
Raw meats and poultry can only be kept in the refrigerator for a few days. However, if it is stored in the freezer, it can last longer.
Frozen ground meat keeps for 3-4 months while whole chicken and turkey can keep for over a year.
FoodSafety.gov explained: “Food poisoning bacteria does not grow in the freezer, so no matter how long a food is frozen, it is safe to eat.”
Foods frozen for months may taste dry, or not be as delicious, but they are safe to consume.
Frozen raw fish will last for six to nine month. If it’s not allowed to thaw, smoked fish can last for three to six months. Commercially frozen fish will last 10 to 12 months.
You can eat unopened canned tuna for two to five year after the date printed on the can.
Because there is no moisture, dry ingredients such as white flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar last for a long time.
Although they are safe to eat, avoid dry ingredients that give off unpleasant odors.
Most canned foods, including vegetables, have a very long shelf life. Soups can be eaten up to one year after expiry.
Canning meats such as Spam or corned beef will keep their shelf life for between two and five more years.
However, certain highly acidic items such as pineapple and canned tomatoes have shorter shelf lives.
Bagged veg, frozen fruits, and yogurt
You can save unused items such as pre-cut greens and salads that you have thrown away. You can refresh semi-wilted greens with ice water for 5-10 minutes.
Fruits and vegetables frozen can be kept for up to 10 months after their printed expiry dates. Unopened yogurt can be eaten for up to two weeks after its expiry date. Frozen yogurt can also be used for up to two months.
How to determine if food is bad
Most foods will go bad at some point so make sure you check before you eat.
You can use your senses to determine if food is safe to eat. Look for any unusual smells, textures or colors in the food.
Pay attention to pungent and unpleasant smells in milk and meat. Look out for discolouration and mould in fruits and vegetables. This also applies to bread.
You should be on the lookout for damaged or bulging canned foods.
Food spoilage can be avoided by marking the date you opened or started using any product. Then, refer to food safety information sites such as www.foo.org. Food Safety AgencyFind out what to do next.