Know When to Toss ’Em

Ex­pi­ra­tion dates you should never ig­nore

Reader's Digest (Canada) - - Contents - BY TIF­FANY GAGNON

Ex­pi­ra­tion dates you should never ig­nore. TIF­FANY GAGNON

Jarred Condi­ments

Spreads and sauces may seem to last for­ever, but they are of­ten ex­posed to bac­te­ria, putting you at risk of food poisoning. Bac­te­ria can start mul­ti­ply­ing as soon as you open a jarred condi­ment, es­pe­cially if there hap­pens to be cross-con­tam­i­na­tion. “When we make sand­wiches, for ex­am­ple, we dip the knife into the spread con­tainer, wipe it onto the sand­wich and then dip it back into the con­tainer,” says Jes­sica Cran­dall, a Den­ver-based reg­is­tered di­eti­tian, cer­ti­fied di­a­betes ed­u­ca­tor and na­tional spokesper­son for the Academy of Nu­tri­tion and Di­etet­ics. “By do­ing this, you’re putting some bac­te­ria back into the con­tainer.” Also, if there’s wa­ter float­ing on top or dis­col­oration, get rid of the whole jar.

Egg Sub­sti­tutes

Whole raw eggs can stay in the fridge for three to five weeks. An egg sub­sti­tute will last ap­prox­i­mately 10 days af­ter you buy it or three to

five days af­ter you open the car­ton, de­pend­ing on the ex­pi­ra­tion date. Keep it any longer and you run the risk of mak­ing your­self sick.

Soft Cheeses

Semi-hard cheeses, such as ched­dar and Gouda, have less mois­ture for bac­te­ria to thrive in, so they can last two to four months in the fridge if they’re prop­erly stored. (Wrap the cheese in a layer of wax pa­per first, then add a layer of tin­foil on top.

This will al­low it to breathe with­out ex­pos­ing it to air and dry­ing it out). But softer cheeses, such as ri­cotta, cream cheese, feta, brie and goat cheese, spoil faster. They’ll last one to two weeks in the fridge af­ter open­ing, but toss them sooner if you see signs of spoilage, such as blue-green mould, which can grow along with ill­ness-caus­ing bac­te­ria such as lis­te­ria, bru­cella, sal­mo­nella and E. coli.

Deli Meat

Those ham and turkey slices will last three to five days af­ter you buy them at the deli counter or crack the seal of an air­tight pack­age, so buy only what you’ll re­al­is­ti­cally con­sume dur­ing that pe­riod. Deli meat is sus­cep­ti­ble to lis­te­ria, which thrive in cold en­vi­ron­ments, so even your fridge won’t of­fer to­tal pro­tec­tion. A lit­tle slim­i­ness or a funky smell are clear signs that deli prod­ucts need to go.

Cold-Pressed Juice

Typ­i­cal pro­cessed juices un­dergo pas­teur­iza­tion to kill harm­ful bac­te­ria and in­crease shelf life, but many cold-pressed va­ri­eties are un­pas­teur­ized and could be con­tam­i­nated. To avoid get­ting sick, buy from your lo­cal juice bar only what you plan to drink within the next two to three days, and be sure to al­ways keep the bot­tle re­frig­er­ated.


Un­like other veg­gies, sprouts are grown in warm, moist con­di­tions that make a cozy home for E. coli and sal­mo­nella. Even a few bac­te­ria in a seed could multiply by the time it starts to bud. Sprouts won’t last as long as leafy greens and should be tossed by their ex­pi­ra­tion date.


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