Safe Food Refrigeration – Your Quick Guide

How long can fresh fruits, meats and vegetables last in the refrigerator? There’s no definitive amount of time because of different factors like food age, and type of food.

Every household has a different list of staple foods they keep on hand. This means there are basic foods that can be found in most general households, including things like cured meats (bacon, sausage, lunch meats), dairy, vegetables (lettuce, tomatoes, onions) and leftovers (pizza, chicken, roasts).

All foods have a different lifespan but there are typically five to 10 common foods you can safely store in your refrigerator for a reasonable amount of time. If you have ongoing issues with your cold foods not lasting well, it may be time to call for a maintenance check on your appliance.

Four Things To Know About Food Storage

These are the main factors that determine the length of food storage time:

1. Time on the shelf

The length of time the food had already been sitting in the grocery store bins will determine how long it will last after purchase. If the food was already “aged” before arriving at the store, it won’t last long in your refrigerator. Always check meats and vegetables for signs of bruising or odours to determine if they’re no longer safely edible. A whole, fresh chicken can last up to an average of two days in the refrigerator, so be sure to check the date on the package and look for any irregularities before you purchase it.

2. Food type

Dairy doesn’t last as long as cured meats. Opened dairy products like milk or cheeses last an average of four to five days in the refrigerator, which is why it’s best to consume dairy products faster than other foods. Dairy products like milk will curdle when it has gone bad. It is also a good idea to store the milk container in the very back of the refrigerator where it’s colder. This will also help the milk to last a little longer. If you find your milk is routinely going off quickly, you may need to have your refrigerator unit serviced to determine any maintenance issues.

3. Fridge age

Has your refrigerator been maintained and well cared for? If one or two items in the refrigerator are consistently going bad, that’s not cause for alarm. However, if you’re having issues with constantly having to throw out food of different types, your refrigerator is probably not maintaining a cold enough temperature. It may be time to either service the unit or purchase another one to prevent further waste of both fresh produce and your money.

4. Food storage

Even though your fridge is sealed by its door, you must still cover dishes and use airtight containers when storing cold food. When air mingles with food, it will dry out. Uncovered dishes or poorly wrapped items in the refrigerator will lose freshness quickly, even if the refrigerator’s temperature is set correctly. Salad items that contain mayonnaise have to be covered well, and can last anywhere from three to five days if protected.

For best overall results in healthy storage from your fridge, keep it serviced regularly and try to buy food as fresh as possible. This can increase the lifespan of both your refrigerator and your food items.