Between 30 and 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten – as much as 20 pounds of food per person per month. That means Americans are throwing out the equivalent of $165 billion in food each year. We believe that the dates stamped onto our food are meant to indicate when food should no longer be consumed, but this is not necessarily true. With an exception of infant formula, if the date passes during home storage, a product should still be safe to consume if handled properly until the time spoilage is evident. (See USDA’s recommendations on refrigeration and food safety.)
- The FoodKeeper, developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, is a complete guide to how long virtually every food available in the United States will keep in the pantry, in the refrigerator, and in the freezer. For example, apples will last three weeks in the pantry and 4 – 6 weeks in the refrigerator. Eggs in their original carton will last three to five weeks in the refrigerator if placed in the coldest part of the refrigerator (and not in the door due to loss of coolness from repeated opening of the door). Access the FoodKeeper or download it as a mobile application for Android and Apple devices.
- The FDA’s Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart includes safe storage times for many widely-used foods.
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