We are spending more money on our food lately than we have in past years. Properly storing food at home saves food dollars, preserves the quality and nutrients, and prevents foodborne illness caused by harmful bacteria.
Many staples and canned foods have a lengthy shelf life. However, foods stored for longer than recommended times or beyond package date may change quality, color, and flavor. Periodically check for expiration dates and discard foods showing any signs of spoilage.
Store perishable foods in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or below. Items like meat, dairy, poultry, eggs, and fish should be in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Store them in airtight wraps or containers to prevent juices from dripping and contaminating other foods.
Freezer temperatures should be maintained at 0°F or below. Package items for the freezer in moisture- and vapor-proof wraps or containers, using freezer-grade foil, plastic wrap or bags, or freezer paper or containers. Label all freezer foods with the date, food item, and weight or number of servings. For more information on how long foods last, check the FoodKeeper App, www.foodsafety.gov.
UNL Food, food.unl.edu
Texas Agricultural Extension Service, nchfp.uga.edu
- Condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings, are often opened and forgotten on the door or shelf of your refrigerator. Although they may last a long time, they can become expired or spoiled before they are completely used. Tips to ensure safe condiments include the following:
- Label foods with the date the container is first opened.
- Use open condiments before opening a new one.
- Check product quality and labeled date before consuming condiments (see below).
- Throw away if spoiled or expired.
WHAT DO THE PRODUCT DATES MEAN?
Best by, use by, best if used by, best before – all indicate the date a product should be used for best quality, neither is a food safety/spoilage issue.
Shelf life of common condiments after opening
- Olives: 2 weeks
- Barbeque Sauce: 4 months
- Pesto: 3 days
- Gravy: 1–2 days
- Pickles: 1–3 months
- Horseradish: 3–4 months
- Relish: 9 months
- Hot Sauce: 6 months
- Salad Dressing: 1–3 months
- Jams and Jellies: 6–12 months
- Taco Sauce: 1 month
- Ketchup: 6 months
- Soy Sauce: 1 month
- Mayonnaise: 1–2 months
- Worcestershire Sauce: 1 year
- Mustard: 1 year
For more information, download Foodsafety.gov’s FoodKeeper App (www.foodsafety.gov/keep/foodkeeperapp)