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When to Toss the Food in the Fridge

Updated on November 12, 2011

Don't eat this

When to toss the food in the fridge

Chances are if the vegetables or fruit are turning to mush, you'll toss them. Or if the soft cheese is turning green that too you will toss (the hard cheese, you can cut off the mold). But what about the mayo that has been in the fridge for a year? And the pickles that you nosh on maybe once a week but have been there for a month?

Some people store items like ketchup and jam in the pantry which can shorten their shelf life. It is suggested that certain staples be refrigerated to insure freshness.

Here is a list from a current food magazine recommending when you should toss those pre-packaged staples:

1 - Mayonnaise - Because it contains eggs, mayo should always be stored in the fridge. It will keep for up to two months.

2 - Pickles - If these are homemade or bought loose (fresh) in the market they have a lifespan of no more than one week. However, if they are the store-bought jarred pickles they can last up to two months.

3 - Ketchup/Catsup/BBQ Sauce - The ketchup can last up to six months while the BBQ sauce is only good up to four months.

4 - Salsa - If you make it yourself it is good for up to three days. The store-bought jarred versions are good up to a month.

5 - Mustard - The various kinds of mustard (coarse ground, smooth, yellow, etc.) have the best long life if kept in the fridge. They are good for up to one year.

6 - Jams and Jelly - While the expiration date may vary slightly for the many different kinds - it is suggested that they be kept in the fridge and used within six months.

7 - Pure Maple Syrup - This product keeps best in the refrigerator rather than at room temperature. It can be stored there for up to one year.

8 - Olives - Jarred and canned olives last for two weeks provided they are covered in their brine in an airtight container. Olives purchased from the deli can keep for at least a month or a bit longer.

True Story: A friend wanted to make a sandwich using cold cuts. He didn't know how old the cold cuts were. He sniffed them and asked my opinion. I asked him if his life was worth more than 50cents worth of suspect baloney. So he tossed the meats.

If it smells or if you have any doubts about the freshness and don't remember when you put it in the fridge, don't use it - it is not worth a (painful) trip to a (costly) doctor or hospital.

For safe food ideas and more, see the links below:

What will you do?

Will you toss old food or eat it?

See results


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    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Oooh good point about meat, Delores Monet, and it seems to stink more than ever. We should always listen to our mothers - and 'throw it out!'

      Thanks for writing!

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 

      8 years ago from East Coast, United States

      BK - my mother used to say, 'when it doubt, throw it out.' And she told me never to smell meat. It always stinks.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks theherbivorehippi - I value your opinion! Glad you found the hub awesome - we just can't take chances with our health.

    • theherbivorehippi profile image


      8 years ago from Holly, MI

      Awesome Hub! I have had food poisoning twice and after the last time I swear I throw away stuff that probably is still fine to eat but I'm terrified to ever get it again. I cannot go through that 24 hour pain. P.s. I had no idea salsa has such a short shelf life! I usually eat mine so fast once it's open but that's really good to know!

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Glad you read the hub - thank you Maita!

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      8 years ago from US

      good advice BK< it is not really worth it when you are in doubt about the freshness, Thank you, Maita

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      So true tim-tim! It's surprising how many chances we will take with bad food which can have some serious effects on our immediate health.

    • tim-tim profile image

      Priscilla Chan 

      9 years ago from Normal, Illinois

      Good title! When it doubt,leave it out, LOL! I say when I see stuff growing, definitely toss it:)

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Right now I have so many questionable items in my fridge. And today I am going to throw it all out!

      Isn't it amazing how we take chances with old food?

      Thanks for writing!

    • Jody Heckenlively profile image

      Jody Heckenlively 

      9 years ago

      Great hub! I always ask myself when facing a questionnable item in the fridge, "Is eating this worth the potential downside?" The answer is always the same, "No!" When in doubt, throw it out!


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