How Long Will Foods Last In A Refrigerator?

Throw out spoiled foodsDo you keep “past due” foods in your refrigerator? You wouldn’t be alone. A study from the Home Food Safety website shows that more than 40 percent of people either have never cleaned their refrigerators, or can’t remember the last they did.

Past due foods can lose their taste, give off bad odors, and/or make you ill — just a few of the reasons to remain vigilant about your refrigerator’s perishable foods.

Still nursing that ketchup from last Labor Day’s grill out? Put it in the trash. Storing canned vegetables that you bought last year? Get rid of them today. 

Watching that freezer burn develop on some of your cold-storage foods? Pitch them in the garbage. 

There’s very little good that comes from eating food that’s been damaged, spoiled, or left to rot slowly. That’s one of the reasons why has created its “Storage Times For Refrigerator And Freezer” chart. Listed by food category, it tells you how long a particular food type can remain “safe” in your refrigerator, and in your freezer.

A sampling of the foods, plus their recommended maximum storage times, includes :

  • Deli-sliced luncheon meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
  • Hamburger meat : 5 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer
  • Leftover pizza : 4 days in the refrigerator; 2 months in the freezer

In all, the list contains recommendations for nearly two dozen common foods. 

In addition, the website maintains a separate safety information section for egg and egg-based products.  Egg storage safety is important because more than 400 people contract salmonella each month nationwide.

From scrambled eggs and pies, to quiches and egg-yolk substitutes, you’ll know how long to keep your food, and how long until you should throw it out.

How To Keep A Clean Refrigerator

Clean refrigeratorDo you clean your refrigerator regularly, or only after you’ve run out of space? If your answer is the latter, your refrigerator may be harboring dangerous bacteria that can make you, your family, and your house guests ill.

Refrigerators should be cleaned monthly, inside and out, ideally. The process involves removing all foods, cleaning all shelves, and wiping down drawers. Spoiled food is removed and old containers reclaimed.

The process takes 20 minutes. Here’s how to do it.

First, prepare your cleaning stations, including filling a sink with soapy water, and having drying towels handy. Complete this step before you start to remove food from the refrigerator. This limits the amount of time that food has available to reach room temperature.

Next, remove all food from the appliance. Throw out old food past its expiration, and leftovers which have been in containers for more than a few days. Check dairy products for expiration dates — especially cheeses and creams. Toss fruits and vegetables that have spoiled. Wipe down condiment jars and bottles with a damp towel.

Next, with the refrigerator empty, remove all shelves and drawers and wash them in the water-filled sink. Scrub to remove any caked-on foods and spills. Rinse off the soapy water and dry the part on your drying towels.

Then, while the shelves and drawers are drying, using a mixture of baking soda and water, wipe down the interior surfaces of your appliance. The mixture should be roughly 2 tablespoons of baking soda for every 1 gallon of water. Wipe the mixture off with a clean towel.

Lastly, move the shelves and drawers back into the refrigerator and replace all of the food that’s “good”.

Refrigerators can be a dirty place. We rarely wash our hands before handling food in a refrigerator and that can contribute to a bacteria-heavy environment. A good cleaning, though, can keep our foods — and our home — healthy.

Clean your refrigerator regularly.