If you’ve ever had food poisoning… or just eaten something that “went bad”… you’ve probably wished you’d known how to avoid it.
Although most food contamination occurs in the manufacturing and packaging process, it can also happen while the food is in your fridge or on the shelf… or even while you’re preparing it.
And that means you CAN avoid getting sick from eating these foods.
But if you’re relying on the “Best Before” dates stamped on your meat, dairy, eggs, and more to determine whether or not they’re “safe” to eat, you could be making dinnertime a life-threatening event!
In fact, those “expiration dates” you see stamped on foods don’t really mean much of anything – so much so that the Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) estimates that nine out of every 10 foods that are tossed out every day are actually perfectly good.
But how many foods do you end up eating that aren’t expired…but aren’t “good” at all?
Unfortunately, not everything in your kitchen that’s gone bad will look furry or smell like a rotten egg. And while stale bread won’t necessarily make you sick, you’re not totally in the clear when you eat foods that may still have all their flavour and aren’t yet “expired.”
Here’s how you can ensure the safety of what you eat in your own home:
1. Keep it cold: Nutritious foods stored in proper temperatures can last long past the “Best Before” date, so make sure your fridge is set to a cold enough temperature (and don’t stand there with the door open too long). Eggs, for instance, can last WEEKS past their “expiration.” You can also extend the life of uncooked meats by nearly 50 per cent simply by freezing them.
2. Make it hot: High heat can often kill bacteria that’s managed to survive in the cold of the fridge or freezer, so use a thermometer to make sure the “core” temperatures of your meats are high enough to be safe. Sauté your veggies in a hot pan with olive oil rather than eating them raw. And although you may love a runny yolk, flip that egg and enjoy it “over easy.” It’s not just uncooked foods, either – because leftovers should be reheated to an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees, within three to four days.
3. Don’t contaminate: Use separate cutting boards for meats and non-meats (like fruits and veggies), and wash each of them after every use. Keep your cutlery separate, too – and scrub those with soap and water before you go to slice, scoop, or stir something else. Store unused portions of uncooked foods and leftovers in a glass container with a lid.
And, one last thing: When in doubt, toss it out!Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Glenn S. Rothfeld
Nutrition & Healing
Why you may be wasting perfectly safe food, cbsnews.com/news/new-bill-pushes-for-federal-standard-for-food-date-labels/
Expiration Dates: What You Should Know Before You Toss Your Food, huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/13/food-expiration-dates_n_4195060.html
Food Waste, nrdc.org/issues/food-waste
Cracking the Date Code on Egg Cartons, food.unl.edu/cracking-date-code-egg-cartons
When Does Your Food Really Expire? kcet.org/food/when-does-your-food-really-expire
How long can you safely keep leftovers in the refrigerator? mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/food-safety/faq-20058500
Charts: Food Safety at a Glance, foodsafety.gov/keep/charts/