When Food Should be Thrown Out
The USDA estimates that in America, $161 billion worth of food gets thrown out every year.
Correct storage procedures can prevent you from having to throw out so much food, but inevitably, you will have to toss some of your food. Knowing how long food can be stored and the physical signs that food has gone bad will ensure that you are not serving spoiled food and exposing your customers to pathogens that could lead to foodborne illnesses.
Knowing how long food can be stored or held before having to be discarded is an important part of FDA food code.
Refrigerate leftovers for 7 days max
FDA code states that prepared foods can be stored in the refrigerator for 7 days max. Be sure to properly label the date to ensure you know when to throw it out.
TCS foods left out more than 2 hours
Time and temperature controlled (TCS) foods are at a higher risk of developing a large amount of pathogenic bacteria when left in the temperature danger zone (41°F – 135°F) for longer than 2 hours. If a TCS food is left out for longer than that, discard it.
Past the use by date
Be sure to check the use by date before you use the food to see if it is still safe to consume.
Signs you need to throw food out
There are also physical signs that you should look out for. If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to toss it.
Mold is an obvious sign that food has gone bad, but nevertheless be on the lookout for it.
Another more obvious sign, if food smells differently than it’s supposed to, it is time to throw it out.
Ice crystals on frozen foods is a sign that the food has thawed and refroze numerous times, making it more susceptible to foodborne pathogens.
Whether it’s meat that is very dark or green, or yellowing vegetables, an off color could mean that it has gone bad.
Food that has suddenly become slimy is probably no good anymore.