June 3, 2020

Do You Know How Long Foods Can Be Stored in the Fridge or Freezer?

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many people are buying more food than they can eat in a week, or even in a month. While hoarding food is not helping the situation, these actions can help people feel safer. While nonperishable foods such as canned and shelf-stable products can be stored without worrying about food safety, do you know how long foods can be stored in the fridge or freezer? Foodsafety.gov has the answer with a chart.

Do You Know How Long Foods Can Be Stored in the Fridge or Freezer?

First, a note about expiration dates. Most of these dates, especially for canned foods or shelf stable foods, refer to the quality of the food, not to possible bacterial contamination. So if you have a can of peas that are past the “best if used by” date stamped on the can, you can still eat them; the peas just won’t have a good color and the flavor may be reduced.

However, the “use by” dates on meats, poultry, eggs, and seafood do refer to safety. If any of these products are at their use by date, use them or freeze them.

The guidelines for freezing food refer to quality; as long as the food is frozen continuously at 0°F or lower, they can be kept indefinitely. There may be dry spots on the food (freezer burn) or the color may be different, but as long as they are cooked to safe final internal temps the food should be safe to eat.

Most prepared perishable foods, such as egg salad or casseroles, should be eaten, frozen, or discarded within four days. Most unopened packages of meat and poultry can be kept in the fridge for about 3 to 5 days or a week. The exception is ground meats and poultry, which should be used or frozen within 1 or 2 days. Most preserved meats are still safe after two weeks in the fridge; that drops to 1 week if the package has been opened.

Print out the chart and tape it to your fridge or pantry door. Follow these dates and guidelines and you won’t have to worry about the safety of the food you feed your family.

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