Most people don’t believe in being wasteful with food and store leftovers for a later time. Everyone has leftovers to nibble on from time to time but how long should you keep them before throwing them out? Of course, different foods have different rates at which they can spoil or become unhealthy. Sometimes you don’t even remember how long a particular item has been in the refrigerator. You don’t want to make yourself sick by eating bad food, but you may not want to throw out good food too early either. What can we do?
There is some help coming in the future. Recently the American Chemical Society reported that they are developing “smart labels” that alert consumers when foods, cosmetics and other products have gone bad. These paper sensors will be able to test for toxins in everything cereal to coffee. But there is still a lot of research and testing to be done so don’t expect to see anything like this for a while yet.
So, what can we do for now? For starters those foods that need refrigeration can become hazardous between the temperatures of 40 degrees and 140 degrees. Foods left in these temperature ranges for expended periods should be suspect and could be unsafe to eat.
One mistake many people make is to buy more food than they can eat in a reasonable amount of time. Be mindful of how much you eat and buy food accordingly, that way you won’t always have an abundance of leftovers.
For takeout foods it a good idea to label or write the date you ordered the food. Food containers can also be labeled to help keep track of age. There are also the expiration guidelines on the food packages themselves that you can go by.
Just remember that if you’re in doubt, you should throw it out. Nobody wants to get sick from leftovers that were spoiled.