Food is an essential part of everyone’s day, providing the energy and motivation you need to achieve your daily goals. Different foods have different life spans, so ensuring that you’re food at its peak will keep you safe and provide you with the necessary nutrients.
Certain factors—such as weather, means of preparation, and storage—influence how long a product can last before and after cooking. To know when food is no longer edible, you should always pay attention to a few specific characteristics.
This is one of the easiest ways to know if bacteria have infested your food. Mold varies in appearance: some mold may look like simple green spots, while another may appear as a furry gray mound. Mold will typically grow on the outer layer of a food item and then make its way to the center. The best way to deal with moldy food is to dispose of it in a plastic bag so that it won’t contaminate other products.
Spoiled food will emit a strange odor that will alert you to the fact that it’s no longer safe to eat. This odor comes from chemicals released by bacteria as the food decomposes. The smell is strong, so you’ll most likely notice immediately. If you notice an odor, identify and remove the rotting food item. If the odor persists, you can put a box of baking soda in your fridge, which will effectively trap and remove the smell.
Another characteristic that will let you know when a food is no longer edible is a change in color. When a product is fresh and consumable, the color will be vibrant, especially for fruits, vegetables, and meats. Discoloration occurs from bacteria and a lack of oxygen. Expired meats may appear gray or light brown, and expired produce may appear brown.
Finally, expiration dates are helpful sources for knowing if a specific food item is no longer viable, particularly when an item is packaged in a can or tray. And while how much attention you should pay to expiration dates varies depending on the foods, these dates can help you avoid eating spoiled products, especially when they come in packaging that’s not see-through.