7 Basic Food Safety Principles To Keep In Mind

Your one-stop guide to keeping you - and your food - healthy and safe.

Food safety is absolutely crucial when it comes to making your meals, and ensuring that you know how to properly store and use your ingredients. Mairlyn Smith is sharing tips and tricks to help keep you – and your food – healthy and safe, along with a guide to the lifespan of common refrigerated items.

Let’s start with the basics – Are “Best Before Dates” & “Expiry Dates” the same thing?

Despite the similar phrasing, these two dates aren’t the same thing at all! The Best Before date is a recommendation made by manufacturers about when the food is at it’s peak quality. Best Before dates are not a real indicator of food safety. Expiry dates are also deceptive. This is the legal term used for foods that was made to meet a specific dietary requirement. If you are eating them as per a diet then don’t use them past their expiry date, since the product will no longer provide any health benefits. Some examples of food where the expiry date is important are baby formula and dietary aid drinks.

So, can you eat something after its Best Before date?

Yes, it’s safe to eat something after its Best Before date. This date is just for the manufacturer to let you know that the product may not be at its best quality. In this way, the Best Before date is an indication of quality, not safety.

Does the Best Before date apply after the food’s been opened?

No, once a can or bottle has been opened, the Best Before date is no longer relevant. It only applies before the product is initially opened.

What is a “Sell-By Date”?

This date is exclusively for the store that will be selling the product. This tells the store how long to display the product for sale, and is not a safety date.

What is the difference between “Shelf Stable” and “Non-Perishible”?

There is no difference! These products are the same, and can just be kept at room temperature.

Now that you understand how these dates work, here’s a quick reference guide to how long you can keep some items around before they go bad.

  • Ketchup – This one depends on where you store it. On a shelf, ketchup lasts around a month after being opened. The fridge will help you get more longevity out of this product, upping its lifespan to between 6 and 12 months.
  • Mayonnaise – Up to 2 months in the fridge – much less than most people think!
  • Mustard – Up to 1 year in the fridge.
  • Jam – Up to 6 months in the fridge.
  • Maple Syrup – 1 year in the fridge, but it will last just about forever in the freezer.
  • Balsamic Vinegar –  Up to 3 years, if stored in a cool, dark place.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar – Up to 2 years in a cool, dark place.
  • Natural Peanut Butter – Up to 6 months in the fridge.
  • Peanut Butter with Sugar – Up to 3 months in the pantry.

Baking Powder, Baking Soda and Yeast are ingredients that don’t go bad, but they do stop working after a while. Here’s how to check if these items still work:

  • Baking Powder – This should last about 6 months once it’s been opened. To check if it’s still working, put a teaspoon in hot water. If you get bubbles, you’re still good, but if it stays flat, it’s time to pitch that product.
  • Baking Soda – This should also last around 6 months, and it uses a fizz test as well. For this one, put a teaspoon into vinegar or lemon juice. If it doesn’t fizz, pour it down your drain for a quick clean!
  • Yeast -Add a teaspoon of yeast to a teaspoon of water and add it to a 1/4 cup of water. Cover the mixture and leave it in a warm place for 10 minutes. If its foamy when you come back, it’s still good!

Hopefully these tips helped you understand food safety a bit better. Do you have any tips for keeping food fresh? Let us know in the comments!

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