According to the CDC, more than 48 million people are afflicted by some type of food-borne illness each year. In many cases, these illnesses are contracted because someone has consumed expired or spoiled food.
While that figure is shocking, there are steps you can take to identify spoiled food and ensure you don’t consume it. While one option is to seek resources such as an article on “How to Tell if Eggs are Bad or Good: 6 Easy Ways to Check,” for specific foods you are going to consume, there are also some more general indications of expired food.
Find out what the most common indications of spoiled or expired food are, here:
- There’s Some Type of Slimy Film
If you notice that your holiday roasts or sandwich meat feel slick when touched, or if they have a glossy sheen, chances are they need to be thrown out. However, meat isn’t the only food that can fall victim to this problem.
Vegetables may also fall victim to this fate. If you notice that your salad seems a bit soggy, then it’s past its prime and should not be consumed.
- You See Mold
This should be a pretty obvious indication of a problem. Mold is commonly seen on vegetables, dairy products, and meats that have passed their prime. If you notice mold, it’s time to say farewell to your leftovers.
If there are only a few spots on the edges of your bread, you may be able to trim them off and continue on. However, it’s virtually impossible for the average person to figure out what molds are safe to consume, so your best bet is to throw out any moldy food – after all – it’s better to be safe than sorry!
- There’s a Rancid, Strange Odor
This isn’t one of the most appealing ways to figure out if your food has gone bad, but if everything looks okay, and you still aren’t sure, then it’s time to use your nose. If you notice a pungent, rancid or otherwise bad odor, that gets worse when you put it in your refrigerator, it’s best to throw it out.
- Change in the Food’s Texture
If there’s a change in the texture to a food, this is another indication of a problem. In most cases, this problem is present in dairy products that have gone bad. Any time milk has gotten chunky it should not be consumed. Also, if cheese is oozy or slimy, don’t eat it
Not all types of foods will experience a change in texture and have to be thrown out immediately. For example, if apples, bananas and other types of fruits have gotten soft, they can be used for making jams and compotes.
- Food is Covered in Frost
If you plan to save leftovers for long-term, then you need to look at them before you thaw them out. While ice crystals and frost don’t mean that the food is completely inedible, it’s important to note that these factors will impact the texture and flavor in the food.
When it comes to figuring out if your food is spoiled or expired, you should always err on the side of caution. It’s also smart to live by the common motto “when in doubt, throw it out,” when it comes to possibly spoiled food. Being informed and knowing some of the signs of a problem can also help you know when it’s time to toss something out.