When to Toss Food

As somebody who enjoys keeping their home not just clean but sanitary, there is one thing you should never neglect. Keeping your kitchen clean is one thing… But there are more places that bacteria can grow than just the countertops. We’re talking about the food inside your fridge today. In many homes we’ve been in, the kitchen may look immaculate… But then you open the fridge, and it’s another story. Obvious signs of spoilage are clear indicators to throw out food. These are things like mold, foul odors, and changing colors. So many people suspect it’s in the fridge, that means it’s “safe.” Not so. Each time you open and close the door, you could be releasing bacteria and mold spores into your home.

This is true even without obvious signs of spoilage. Of course, the biggest danger is in eating contaminated food… But what if it doesn’t smell? What if it tastes normal? There’s still a real danger of it being unsafe. So we’ve put together a handy guide for the right time to toss old food.

When to Toss Food – First Thing’s First

The danger zone for bacteria growth is between 40° and 140° Fahrenheit. At this temperature, bacteria has no problem reproducing and will multiply rapidly. Thus, you should ensure your refrigerator is set below 40° and above 32° before starting. Some foods fare better in warmer and colder spaces, and note that you may encounter more condensation at lower temperatures. At 32°, most liquids and foods will freeze.

Eggs and Dairy

Eggs can keep pretty long. Check the expiration date on the box. If the eggs have been kept cool the whole time, they can last 3 to 5 weeks past that date. After that, it’s time to toss them. Milk is one that should stick closer to the expiration date. Some brands can last as long as a week past expiration, but most will go sour after a day or two. Toss it if it’s at the date. Butter can keep for a month or two if refrigerated, and yogurt has a couple of weeks’ shelf life.


Meat doesn’t last nearly as long. If you have meat thawing in the fridge, keep an eye on it. Raw ground beef or poultry will only last a day or two until it spoils. Cooked meat will last five days at the most. This includes deli-sliced lunch meat, which will expire in under five days depending on the meat.

Fruit and Veggies

If your fruits have ripened, you can extend their shelf life by refrigerating them. You have to remember to store them as they were sold with vegetables. Many vegetables spoil faster when exposed to moisture. The inside of your fridge will cause condensation to develop on the veggies. Most fruits last at least a week. Apples can last over a month in good conditions, and so can some citrus fruits. Vegetables will start to turn after five days, with mushrooms expiring very fast. Not as fast as corn, though – Use those corn cobs in a day or two or toss them.

Waste Not Want Not – Use to Prevent the Need to Toss Food

There’s a pattern in recent years. People stock up on a ton of groceries they are unable to use. As a result, the food spoils, and people try to push the expiration dates farther and farther back to save money. It isn’t worth the risk to your health. On our website, you can learn about some of the harmful things bacterial growth can do to you. You can also learn how to keep a clean kitchen. If you need any help, be sure to give us a call.