I often get asked about food waste VS food safety. I believe we should try to NOT to toss food away if we can avoid it. But where do we draw the line to protect ourselves from getting sick?

Did you know…1 in 6 Americans get food borne illness each year.

1.How long can we have meat or fish in the refrigerator before it goes bad?

Raw/fresh chicken or fish should be used within 2 days of being in the frig. Steak, pork, roasts, lamb, veal, beef lasts up to 5 days. Ground meat of any kind is good for ~2 days in the frig.

2.How long past the expiration date can we eat or drink dairy products?  Milk is typically good for at least a week after the expiration date and sometimes longer. It’s best to go by the smell. Yogurt can last even longer because of the bacteria (sometimes up to a month past the date).

3.What is the difference between expiration date, best by date and sell by date?

Best-By: This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

Use-By: This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten; mostly because of quality, not because the item will necessarily make you sick if eaten after the use-by date. However, after the use-by date, product quality is likely to go down much faster and safety could be lessened.

Sell-By: This label is aimed at retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically, one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

4. It it OK to cut the mold from cheese or bread and eat it? Yes and no. It’s OK to cut mold from hard cheeses as the spores won’t spread or penetrate the cheese. Bread, fruit and soft cheeses (like brie) should be thrown out as the spores can spread and possibly produce mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make you sick.

5.Can you refreeze any foods?  Eggs (raw or cooked) should not be frozen. The USDA advises: Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods.

6.What is the best way to thaw meat? Thawing Frozen Meats (and no, leaving it on the counter isn’t one of them!): The absolute best way to thaw frozen meats is by leaving it in the fridge until it’s completely thawed. If you’re crunched for time, take the meat out of its package, put it on a plate, and place it under cool RUNNING water.

7. Do non-carbonated beverages expire? They don’t expire in the sense that they are dangerous to eat, but the carbonation will decrease, which reduces the quality of the product.

8. How long can picnic food stay out? No more than 2 hours unless temps are above 90 degrees, in which case, no more than ONE HOUR!

Any other facts to know?

Leftovers from restaurant– are good for 3-4 days

Cooked meat- 3-4 months in freezer, raw meat, 4-12 months (ground meat shorter)

Broken eggs- need to be tossed.

Helpful web sites for info:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov

https://www.recalls.gov/food.html

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