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Toss or Use – Some tips on food safety

Posted 03/26/2014 | By HealthCorps

You use the expiration date on foods as a helpful guide to know when a food is no longer considered safe for consumption.  Certain foods can be safely eaten past their expiration date.  On the other hand, if you leave a creamy food out for several hours, you may have to toss it to be safe, even if its expiration date says it’s still good.  What foods can be consumed after the expiration date?

Milk – You can drink milk past the expiration date, using the smell and taste test.  Also consider storing milk in the main body of the refrigerator, instead of the door, to preserve freshness.  Door temperatures tend to run higher.

Meat and chicken – As long as it smells fresh and has not developed a thin, slimy layer you can keep meat that’s been immediately refrigerated for up to 5 days past the expiration date.  Prepared meat “salads” and cooked meats, should be tossed after two or three days, if not fully consumed.

Eggs – Will last three to five weeks after purchase as long as they are refrigerated properly.

Canned foods – As long as the can is not dented and was not exposed to temperature extremes, you can keep canned goods for eighteen months to two years.   Canned milk may not last that long and should be tossed if it does not appear pure white, or if it has developed lumps when you open the can.

Frozen foods – The issue is whether the product develops freezer burn or just doesn’t “taste as good,” but otherwise properly frozen food can last for quite a while.  Most butchers recommend consuming frozen meats within six months of purchase.

Boxed processed dry goods – It’s mostly the fats in crackers, chips, nuts that will turn rancid after a while.  So smell or a quick taste will tell you if it’s time to toss it.

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