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Old 05-19-2007, 11:11 AM   #1
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When has good food gone bad?

I know, I know... when in doubt throw it out, but how can you tell when certain foods that show no outward signs of spoilage have gone bad? There are some foods I just don't know about.

Cooked taco meat. I always cook enough for extra, but sometimes I just don't get around to using it or freezing it right away. I have some stuff in a tupperware container right now that's 1-1/2 weeks old. It doesn't smell, look or feel bad (not slimy), but by all accounts it probably is bad. Of course with proper reheating maybe it isn't..... maybe reheating it will kill any superficial bacteria....

How about that opened bottle of barbeque sauce, or jar of spagetti sauce or salad dressing? I've always assumed pickles can't go bad because their pickled, but can they? Relish?

Here's one that I really want to know about. How long does a partially used box container of chicken or beef broth last? I open one, use part of it and there it sits in the fridge for a couple weeks before I cook something that requires it again. Should I open another container up?

Here's one not food related... how about Pepto Bismal? I keep some on hand for the poochies just in case. How long does it last in the refridgerator?

Geez, I hate to keep throwing stuff out I'm unsure about, but obviously don't want to get sick either.... and I know the thawing burger topic had lots of varied opinions..... is there anything cut and dry when it comes to using food up after it's been opened or cooked and stored? This inquiring mind wants to know

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Old 05-19-2007, 11:57 AM   #2
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Use the same method I use for sour cream and yogurt, which are, basically, already bad when you buy them: When you open the container, if the contents are moving, throw it away. Quickly!

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Old 05-19-2007, 12:04 PM   #3
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First off, as far as medications & such, you're best off phoning or e-mailing the manufacturer & getting an answer from them for such questions. In addition, most, if not all, commercial preparations do have a "use by" date somewhere on the bottle, carton, or plastic seal as well. It's usually not difficult to find.

Your cooked taco meat needs to be tossed. 1-1/2 weeks is too long for a meat product in the fridge - cooked or not. If I've cooked something & haven't used it within 3 days, it gets frozen or tossed. If you frequently cook extra meat, I'd definitely get into the habit of freezing it in small-portion sizes right away, otherwise, you're obviously wasting meat/time/money if you're finding it sitting in the fridge for 1-1/2 weeks.

Tomato products like salsa which have vinegar in them can safely be kept in the fridge for a month after opening (I got that info via e-mail from a salsa company), but I only keep plain tomato sauce for a week & then freeze or toss. As far as condiments like barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressings - I don't have any professional info, but pretty much keep them until I use them up.

For broths - according to Swanson, opened cartons of broth should be used within 14 days of opening. I always mark my cartons with the date I opened them, & then either use or freeze them before the 2 weeks are up.
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Old 05-19-2007, 12:48 PM   #4
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I've got salad dessings I started using probably a year ago.... Being single and not making salads regularly it can take me quite a while to use something up. Catsup included. But they still look good.... I did have some crumbled blue cheese that looked like it didn't have the rigth kind of mold on it that I tossed. That was obvious.

I should have read the box on the broth. It is Swansons so must say the same thing as yours. I admit I don't always know if the dates posted on stuff are "use by" or exp dates, though. Some items just list the date only. Then there is "best if used by", too..... so OK, if I don't use it by that date it just isn't as good, or is it going to put me in the hospital or over the toilet

I also put some rolls in a foodsaver cannister. That didn't go as well as expected. They still got mold on some of them in about the same amount of time. I tossed them all, but maybe the ones without mold were still good.

Confusing stuff, at least to me.
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Old 05-19-2007, 01:17 PM   #5
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I give leftover meats 5 days, unless they've been without refrigeration for more than 2 hours (like at a potluck). There's no particular scientific theory about that time period...it' just one that's worked for us. I usually don't keep leftover vegies any longer than that either. As a friend in the food service told me once, "They may not get salmonelley, but they do get furred over."

I keep store bought salsa a long time. As long as it doesn't get moldy, it's OK.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:36 PM   #6
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If I any leftovers I put single serving in a ziploc and freeze them right away. I don't think pickles go bad either, hope we're right.
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Old 05-20-2007, 07:54 PM   #7
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Your cooked taco meat is to old. Chuck it. Never, NEVER, re-cook old, contaiminated meat "to kill off the germs". While yes, you will them off, you have not removed the toxins that the germs released as part of their metabolic processes. Depending on the germ, some of these toxins will give you an upset stomach, some will make you violently ill, some (like botulism) can kill.

BBQ sauce and salad dressing I keep until it's gone (which is usually less than a month). Spaghetti sauce doesn't last more than an hour before it's gone here.

Pickles and pickle relish are preserved by the vinegar. They'll last indefinitely.

For your broth, after you are done making the first dish, pour the remaining broth into ice cube trays, and freeze them. Use as needed.
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Old 05-21-2007, 05:49 AM   #8
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Meats should be used within the first few days, I had chicken wings sitting in my fridge for 4 days and I was highly suspect of those. I cooked em off and they turned out ok.

3-4 days by rule with any kind of meat is my norm, being skeptical of day 4 meats.

Condiments (vinegar based) such as ketchup and BBQ sauce are normally good for indefinate periods of time if well kept, Id be worrying if you got them last summer though. Most condiments have a life of about 10-12 months. If the color darkens, pitch it. Same with any funk smells.

Cheeses are tough to decide, normally you can see where on a cheese it has started to go bad, and you can normally cut the bad parts off. If it gets to the center of the cheese, its obviously bad.

Crumbled cheese I only keep for a few weeks.

Broth is normally a 10 day affair in my uses, unless you freeze and bring it back, you can do that with just about anything..

If your pickles/relish are well sealed they wont go bad. If they arent well sealed they surely will!
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:22 AM   #9
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If leftover meats are only good for 3-4 days, why is it then that lunchmeat lasts longer? Are lunchmeats they cut while you wait (not the prepackaged stuff) made with preservatives that gives them a longer shelf life? That's where I'm having a hard time. You grab a slice of slimy bologna and you know it's bad, but why would leftover cooked burger show no outward signs? Why pitch it after a few days other than the thought that it should be bad?
I made something last night with red wine vinegar and I know I've had that same bottle at least 10 years, but it looked and tasted OK and I was cooking it down anyway....
I guess until I use something that's been sitting around too long and I get sick from it I'm playing Russian roulette, but like I said, it just doesn't seem right to pitch food just because it's past a certain date even though it looks and smells OK. It seems that the cooking/reheating process would kill off any bacteria if they haven't gotten that far along yet, but what do I know
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Old 05-21-2007, 09:44 AM   #10
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"Lunch Meat" doesn't necessariy last longer. "Cold Cuts/Lunch Meats" covers an extremely wide area. And like everything else, their storage life depends on type. There's no difference between them & what you'd cook yourself.

Smoked/cured products (salami, smoked ham, etc.) have a longer shelf life than plain sliced turkey/chicken breast. Most salami products & sliced cheeses are perfectly usable for 2 weeks or more, while I toss any leftover unsmoked cold cuts after a week. Lunch meats like Head Cheese & Liverwurst also have relatively short shelf lives - a week at most.

Like you say, if you want to play "Food Roulette", that's up to you. But don't get misled that cooking/reheating automatically kills off any bacteria that haven't "gotten that far along yet". It doesn't.

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