Common items spoil faster than you think
You might be surprised to learn mayonnaise should be tossed from the refrigerator three months after opening it. Same with salad dressing. And did you know that eggs are good for up to five weeks? The shelf life of different foods can get confusing so we did some research (thanks, WebMD!) and mapped out some guidelines to make it clearer. Not only is some food going bad before you think, some is good much longer than you've probably assumed!
Milk should be dumped no more than five days after the sell-by date (and sooner if your nose tells you differently).
Cream cheese can be used for two weeks after opening before going bad and sour cream can last up to 21 days (though we suggest doing a smell test-some brands only last seven to14 days.) Remember, once a package is opened, sell-by dates don't apply.
Butter or Margarine
Butter lasts one to three months (longer in the freezer!), while margarine can hang out four or five months.
Love brie? Make sure to eat it fast because this and other soft cheeses should be tossed after seven days or it will get super moldy, super fast. But all hard cheeses, like cheddar and Swiss, are good to go for three to four weeks after opening their packaging.
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Ground beef, turkey, and pork are only good for one to two days in the refrigerator. If you're not going to eat it right away, throw it in the freezer. Most steaks, chops, and roasts are fine in the refrigerator for three to five days. A fully cooked vacuum-sealed ham is good for two weeks-unopened. Once you cut into it, it'll spoil around day five. Bacon goes bad after seven days (!) and fresh breakfast sausage should be eaten in the first day or two. Hard sausages and pepperoni are good for two to three weeks.
As we mentioned, mayonnaise and most salad dressings spoil after three months. While the taste might keep a little longer than that, if you still use either after three months, your risk of food-borne illness increases sharply. (WebMD reveals there were an estimated 76 million cases of food-bourne illness in the US last year.) Yellow mustard is fine for six to eight months after opening. Ketchup should be consumed within four to six months after breaking the seal. Jams, jellies, and molasses should be enjoyed within six months.
Most fresh veggies are usually good for one week. This includes artichokes, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, green beans, and lettuce. You can tell these are starting to go bad when you see browning on the leaves or it feels limp.
A few others should be eaten soon after purchase. Asparagus, spinach, and broccoli are best within three to five days, mushrooms within one to two days, and corn should be eaten immediately. Carrots and radishes are good to go for two weeks. In reality, people tend to keep this stuff in the fridge much longer than these recommended expiration dates-and they don't get sick. But each time, they risk getting a food-borne illness or worse. As WebMD points out, mold you can see on the surface is just the tip of the iceberg; there could be poisons under the surface of the food that aren't detectable by the naked eye.
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Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cherries start to rot after just three days. Grapes are good for a week and grapefruit is good for two. Melons are best within seven days while limes and lemons have a shelf life of two to five weeks. Apples can stay good for upwards of five months while oranges should be eaten within five weeks. Opened canned fruit is good for 2-3 days in the fridge.
Additional Items Cheat Sheet
Eggs (in shell) 3-5 weeks
Hot dogs (opened package) 1 week
Lunch meat (opened package) 3-5 days
Pasta sauce (opened) 5-7 days
Tortillas (corn or flour) 1 week
Yogurt 7-14 days
Fruit juices (opened) 7-10 days
Stock (opened) 3-4 days
Pizza 3-4 days
Baby food 1-3 days
Leftovers 1-3 days
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