Eat It, Don’t Throw it Away: Food Handling and Storage

Food Matters

Have you ever encountered checking your refrigerator, looking for something to eat and then noticing leftovers you have already forgotten? Unsure if it’s still safe to eat, you throw it out instead.  Such a waste!

Christopher Bernstein, a Food Safety Education staff, writes that billions of pounds of good food go to waste in the U.S. because people are not certain of the quality or safety.  He also said that according to USDA, 21% of the available food in the U.S. goes uneaten.  This means that each person wastes roughly 36 pounds of food each month.

One reason people throw food out is because they are worried about food poisoning.  Bacteria can cause foodborne illness. These bacteria do not change the taste or smell of food, so telling whether it is contaminated or not is hard.

Unless you are planning for survival kits, you buy items for consumption within the week or month. Long-term food storage kits last longer than items on your grocery list, so you don’t have to worry that they will go bad quickly. For daily or weekly grocery shopping, know the shelf life of what you are buying.

This chart can tell you how long you can store food items in a temperature of 40 degrees and below:

Food ItemsDuration of Storage
Egg, chicken, ham, tuna & macaroni salads3- 5 days
Eggs (in shell)4-5 weeks
Eggs (raw yolks and whites)2-4 days
Hotdogs (opened)1 week
Luncheon meat (opened)3-5 days
Bacon7 days
Sausage (chicken, turkey, pork, beef)1-2 days
Ground meat1-2 days
Pork or Beef Meat3-5 days
Chicken Meat1-2 days
Turkey Meat1-2 days
Corned Beef5-7 days
Fish1-2 days
Leftovers: Cooked meat dishes3-4 days
Leftovers: Soups and stews3-4 days
Leftovers: Cooked poultry dishes3-4 days

Follow the storage duration listed above to prevent food spoilage.  Consume them as soon as possible or find ways to preserve their freshness. Storing foods in the freezer helps.

Quickly refrigerate meat, poultry, fish, dairy and eggs.  As for leftovers, wrap them in airtight packaging or seal them in storage kits.  This avoids the penetration of organisms that can make people sick.

To avoid contamination, practice proper food handling and storage.  This saves you money and keeps you safe from food poisoning.

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