- Meat and Poultry
- Fish and Shellfish
- Cream and Cream Products
- Eggs and Egg Whites
- Ice Cream
- Dairy Spreads
- Fruit, Fruit Products
- Sauces, Dressing, and Dips
- Condiments, Herbs & Spices, Spreads
- Ingredients for Cooking
- Prepared Foods
- Bakery Goods and Sweets
- Grains, Pasta, and Cereal
- FAQs on Bacteria
- What are bacteria?
- How can I avoid getting sick from a bacterial illness?
- How dangerous is a staph infection?
- Can I assume that if food smells bad its unsafe to eat and if it smells ok that it is safe to eat?
- How dangerous is botulism?
- How dangerous is listeria?
- How many types of bacteria are there?
- What foods are likely to be contaminated by listeria?
- What foods can give a person a staph infection?
- What foods can give a person botulism?
- Why do some bacteria make people sick?
- Why does refrigeration keep bacteria from multiplying?
- Can I avoid all contact with bacteria if I’m careful?
- How Many Bacteria Does It Take to Cause Illness?
- FAQs on Cookware
- Are Ceramic and Enamel Cookware Safe and Practical?
- Are Nonstick Coatings on Cookware a Health Risk?
- Do Cast Iron, Glass, Copper, and Titanium Cookware Have Any Disadvantages?
- Does Using Aluminum Cookware Increase the Chances of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Is Stainless Steel Cookware a Good Choice?
- Is the New Silicone Rubberized Cookware Safe?
- Nonstick Cookware: Is it Dangerous?
- What Brands of Cookware are Recommended by Experts?
- What Features Should I Look for When Selecting Cookware?
- What Should I Know about Selecting and Using Aluminum Cookware?
- FAQs about Definitions
- Exactly what is meant by the phrase perishable food?
- What Does the Word “Foodie” Mean? It Depends Who(m) You Ask
- What do “sell by,” “best by/before,” “use by” and “expiration” mean?
- What does the term shelf life mean?
- What's in Our Food? Maybe Processing Aids, Maybe not
- “Fresh,” “Natural,” “Processed”—What Do These Words Mean?
- FAQs on Dropped Food
- FAQs on Farmers' Markets
- Exactly what defines a farmers’ market?
- How should I handle produce at home?
- What foods are sold with restrictions at a farmers’ market?
- What should I bring to the farmers’ market?
- What shouldn’t I do or eat at a farmers’ market?
- What signs indicate a sanitary farmers’ market?
- What time of day is it best to go to a farmers’ market?
- Why are farmers’ markets so popular?
- FAQs on Food-borne Illness and Mishandling of Food
- About how many cases of food-borne illness occur in the U.S. each year?
- Answer Key to “How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?”
- How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?
- I Left It Out Too Long! Can I Still Eat It?
- Should Your Grocery Card Track Food-Borne Illnesses?
- Sudden, Awful Intestinal Distress--Is it the Flu or a Foodborne Illness--or Both?
- What YOU Can Do to Avoid Food-borne Illness
- What does the phrase food-borne illness refer to?
- FAQs on Food Product Dating
- Are stores required, by law, to remove outdated items from their shelves?
- Do most consumers actually pay attention to the dating on foods?
- Does the “use by” date matter once the product is frozen?
- Is information on food longevity and safety available by phone?
- What are expiration dates?
- What do the terms closed dating and open dating mean?
- What if there is no date on a product, and I don’t remember if I bought it a month ago or ten years ago?
- What should consumers know about food product dating?
- When Did You Buy It? When Did You Open It?
- Who establishes these product dates?
- Who requires and regulates dating on foods?
- Why do “best by” and “use by” dates sometimes seem conservative?
- FAQs on Food Safety
- "Is It Safe To….?" FAQs Answered by our Advisory Board
- FAQs about Mushrooms: Are they Very Dirty or Very Clean?
- FAQs about Soft Cheeses--What's Safe, What Isn't
- FAQs on Raw Fruits and Veggies—the Answers Can Protect Your Wallet and Your Health
- Food/Meat Thermometers—What You Need to Know
- How Long Should Cheese Be Aged? Will the Rules Be Changed?
- How Long Will They REALLY Last? Part I: Non-perishables
- How Long Will They REALLY last? Part II: Perishables
- Imported Foods—What’s Safe, What’s Risky?
- Is It Time to Switch to Pasteurized Eggs?
- Is the Food Safety Modernization Act Making Our Food Supply Safer?
- More FAQs about Minimum Safe Cooking Temperatures: Pork and Other Perishables
- Sushi: Why Such a Short Shelf Life?
- Winter Food Storage—Can I leave It in the Car or in the Garage?
- Would You—Should You—Do You--Eat Irradiated Food?
- FAQs on Food Wrapping
- Are any plastic wraps or containers really “microwave safe”?
- Are some plastic wraps more effective than others?
- Can I refrigerate meat and poultry in its store wrapping?
- Can I use plastic freezer bags to store produce in the fridge?
- Can chemicals leach unto food from plastic wrap or containers?
- Do coated plastic bags really help produce last longer?
- Does aluminum foil give foods a metallic taste?
- Does exposure to aluminum cause Alzheimer’s disease?
- Everything You Need to Know about Wrapping Food Right
- How should fruits be wrapped before refrigeration?
- Is it safe to use aluminum foil in a microwave oven?
- Should I wrap raw vegetables loosely or tightly before refrigerating?
- What are some advantages and disadvantages of aluminum foil?
- What produce needs to be wrapped before refrigerating?
- What’s better for wrapping food—plastic or aluminum foil?
- Why does foil sometimes darken, discolor, and leave black specks on food?
- Will a foil cover help keep foods on the table hot or cold?
- FAQs on Freezing Food
- FAQs on Leftovers
- FAQs on Mold
- What is mold?
- Does mold ever grow on nonperishable food?
- Can I remove a moldy part from food and eat the rest?
- About how many different kinds of molds are there?
- How can I avoid getting mold on my refrigerated food?
- Is mold always visible?
- Are any molds harmless?
- What food groups are most susceptible to mold?
- What kinds of illnesses can result from eating moldy food?
- What kind of packaging protects foods from mold?
- What other safety tips will help prevent mold from growing?
- Why are some molds dangerous?
- FAQs on Organic Food
- What Is Organic Food?
- Are Organic Methods More Humane to Animals?
- Does Conventional Food Have a Longer Shelf Life Than Organic?
- Does Organic Food Taste Better than Conventional Food?
- Is Organic Food More Nutritious Than Conventional Food?
- Is Organically Grown Food Better for the Environment?
- What Do the Various Organic Labels Mean?
- What Important Contributions Has the Organic Movement Made?
- Which Are Safer: Organic or Conventional Food Products?
- Will Organic Baby Food Make Baby Healthier?
- FAQs on Oxidation: How It Affects Foods
- FAQs about Plastic Products Used with Food
- Pyrex® Glassware: Is it safe to use?
- Are plastic bags safe to use in the microwave?
- Are some plastic wraps safer and/or more effective than others?
- Are there any health risks from reusing plastic water bottles by refilling them with tap water?
- Are we eating chemicals from plastics along with our food?
- Can I microwave food in my plastic containers?
- Does the plastic used in water bottles pose a health risk?
- If I heat food in an open can, will that cause the plastic lining to leach chemicals into the food?
- Is it safe to heat frozen entrées in their plastic containers and with their plastic wrap?
- Is it safe to use plastic wrap as a covering when microwaving food?
- Is it safe to wash and dry plastic plates, cups, containers, and utensils in the dishwasher?
- Is there good evidence that BPA is harmful to human health?
- Of the plastic products used to store, heat, or eat with (wraps, bags, containers, silverware, plates, etc.), which contain BPA?
- What is BPA?
- Why is so much of today’s food packaged in plastic?
- FAQs on Preservatives
- What are Preservatives?
- All things considered, is our food supply safer or less safe because of preservatives?
- Are the preservatives in hot dogs and similar products health risks?
- What preservatives are known to cause allergic reactions?
- What are some common preservatives used in food?
- What food groups commonly have preservatives in them?
- Why are preservatives added to food?
- Will the label on the product tell me if it contains a preservative?
- FAQs on Washing Produce: Why and How
- Other FAQs
- Can chicken soup really cure a cold?
- Is Chocolate Good For You?
- FAQs about Food Price Increases
- FAQs about Shelf Life: Tortillas, Pancakes, Wine, and More
- Food Fraud: Are you paying for scallops and getting shark meat?
- Is Cheese Addictive? Only If You Eat It
- Nine FAQs about Food Labels
- Quiz Yourself! Check Your Knowledge about Food Temperatures
- Scientists Answer Two FAQs about Egg Safety
- Some Shelf Life Info, General and Specific (Spirits, Defrosted Veggies, Green Tea, and More)
- Ten FAQs about the Prickly Pineapple
- What's on the Menu in Cuba?
- What’s in My Water? Answers to FAQs
- FAQs on Bacteria
- Books: Food for Thought
- Food Safety
- It Says "Use By Tomorrow," But You Don't Have To
- Ten Tips for Consumer Food Safety
- Food Allergies: Recognizing and Controlling Them
- “Is It Spoiled?” When in Doubt, Check It Out
- How To Keep Your Cooler Cool
- Recent Recalls: Salmonella Threatens 100s of Products
- STOP! Don’t Rinse That Raw Chicken!
- Sous Vide—A Better Way to Cook?
- Why You Need a Safe Cooking Temperature Chart and How to Get One Right Now
- “Myth-information” about Food Safety: You’d Better Not Believe It
- After The Storm: What You Can Save and What You Must Throw Out
- How to Protect Your Food During a Power Outage
- Meet Your Beef--Via Bar Code Info
- Tips About 4 Popular Beverages: Wine, Coffee, Water, and Soda
- Tips on Water Safety During and After a Storm
- Introducing our Advisory Board Scientists
- Produce: Handling Tips
- Seasonal Tips
- A Novel Method for Cooking a Turkey
- Crock Pot Cooking Tips for that Ideal Winter Dinner
- Going Away for All or Part of the Winter? Prepare Your Kitchen for your Absence
- How To Grill Safely During the Summer
- How do summer squash and winter squash differ?
- New Year’s Resolutions For a Safer Kitchen
- Preserve the Taste of Summer by Canning—But Do It Safely
- Summer Food Fests Offer Much More than Calories
- Tips on Keeping Your Summer Fruits Flavorful and Healthy
- Tips on Three Summer Pleasures: Ice Cream, Grilled Entrées, and Food Festivals
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- Cooking Frozen Foods
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- How Often Should You Defrost And Clean Your Freezer?
- How To Defrost And Clean Your Freezer
- How To Defrost Frozen Foods
- How To Freeze Foods: The Quicker The Better
- How To Wrap Foods For The Freezer
- Refreezing Frozen Foods
- What You Can Freeze And What You Can't--Or Shouldn't
- Tips About Genetically Engineered Foods
- Tips for Grocery Shopping
- Tips for Holidays
- Chocolate Is Even More Healthful Than You Thought
- Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Without Cabbage Stink
- Everything You Need to Know about Cranberry Sauce
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- What NOT to Do With Thanksgiving Dinner
- Yikes! The Turkey Is Done, But the Guests Are Delayed! How Do I Keep My Thanksgiving Dinner Warm?
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- Food Safety Facts
- How To Clean The Refrigerator
- How To Wrap Foods For Refrigeration
- How long can a pie be left unrefrigerated?
- Power Outage? Here’s What to Do with All That Food in the Fridge
- Proper Handling Of Produce In The Crisper(s)
- Proper Refrigeration Placement Of Raw Meat, Chicken, And Fish
- Six Tips for Extending the Shelf Life of Foods
- What Can and Can't Go In The Fridge Door
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- Microwave Cooking
- The 10 Most Dangerous Foods To Consume While Driving
- Are Your Kids Home Alone after School? Educate Them about Snacking
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- Eggies™ to the Rescue?
- Ever Eaten “Glued” Food?
- Food Definitions: Umami, Locavore, Fruit, Heirloom, and Artisan
- If You Don't Know Beans about Beans...
- In Defense of Processed Food
- Kids and Cooking: A Good Combo
- New Uses for Old Food: Try 'Em Out!
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How to Avoid Wasting Food at Home
[Editor’s note: At least 25% (perhaps as much as 40%) of all food that’s produced in the U.S. winds up being discarded. Dairy foods and produce are very often what’s thrown out because of their relatively short shelf life. Minimizing waste can help families cut their food budget. Therefore, Shelf Life Advice asked a member of its Advisory Board, Dr. Timothy Bowser, a food process engineer with expertise in waste management, to provide some tips on reducing waste in the home. This site contains much additional information on avoiding food waste, especially on ways to delay spoilage by properly storing and wrapping various edible products.]
The number one means of reducing consumer food waste is to “eat it” rather than “treat it” (meaning washing leftovers down the drain or throwing them in the trash). This was the advice a speaker gave at a continuing education course presented at a Fortune 500 company (a food processor).
How can consumers ensure that more food is eaten rather than “treated”? Some of my thoughts follow.
Frequently conduct an inventory of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Make use of foods that are nearing their expiration dates first. Give away those that can’t be used in time.
Purchase only what you need in fresh ingredients. Bulk packs may be cheaper, but if a significant amount is wasted, then the cost needs to be reevaluated.
Shop for groceries carefully; do whatever it takes to avoid impulse shopping in the grocery store:
- Never shop on an empty stomach.
- Resist impulse purchases.
- Plan meals in advance.
- Make a shopping list and stick to it.
Cook with the end in mind. Match the batch size as closely as possible to the amount of food that will be consumed at one meal. How many servings are really needed? Leftovers are often discarded, and this is a major source of waste. If you do deliberately cook enough for leftovers, plan a use for the them to be served the same way at another meal, as an ingredient in a subsequent dish, or even as pet food.
Research new recipes, ingredients, and methods to make cooking more successful and less wasteful. (Examples are purchasing boneless, trimmed meat for a roast or using a plastic baking bag for cooking a turkey. In my opinion, turkeys are easier to cook in a bag and result in a moister, tastier bird. In the end, you have fewer mistakes, more meat consumed, and less waste.)
Experiment with smaller quantities when you are trying out a new recipe. If you don’t like the results, you will have less waste.
Efficiently empty containers. Draining and cleanly scraping the contents of food containers can significantly reduce waste. Keeping a variety of spatulas on hand (narrow, wide, scooped, etc.) can improve the efficiency of container emptying. I like to prop containers upside-down and give them time to drain into dishes, measuring cups, or mixing bowls.
Avoid mistakes that ruin and subsequently waste food:
- Don’t cook in a hurry.
- Use a kitchen timer that produces a clear signal to attract your attention, no matter where you’ve wandered off to.
- Use a thermometer to check the doneness of food you’re cooking. A thermometer with an alarm to get your attention is even more useful. I really like the wireless thermometer. I put the probe in the meat smoker outside (transmitter sits on top of smoker and corded probe goes into smoker box) and keep the base unit with the alarm in the kitchen!
- All thermometers should be calibrated on a regular basis (every year). The temperature reading might never be more accurate than about +/- 5 degrees F for a cheap model or +/- 2 F for a more accurate one.
- Purchase an accurate thermometer to help you check and calibrate your oven. (Your food thermometer will work if the temperature goes high enough.) Most ovens have a calibration sequence. Calibration on older models is mechanical: most require removing the temperature control knob (pull it off), and loosening a set screw (or screws) on the back of the knob that allows you to rotate the dial to the correct temperature. Other mechanical ovens have a set screw that is located down inside the hollow control knob shaft. Newer ovens have digital controls, and most of them have a setup menu that allows the user to calibrate the oven. The setup sequence should be described in the owner’s manual. If you’ve lost the manual, you may be able to download a copy from the manufacturer.
- Use a toothpick or the fingertip test to check the doneness of baked goods. If the toothpick comes out without batter on it or the fingerprint disappears, the item is done.)
- Use good food handling practices: keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold; wash hands frequently; keep food preparation areas clean and neat.
Recycle food oils and grease. Learn the location of recycling centers and how to safely accumulate, package and transport waste oils and grease.
Compost solid waste when possible, and use it for yard, garden, or potted plant soil.
Notice how food is wasted in your home and find recipes or alternative uses for the waste. For example, in my home we frequently find that the last few bananas in the bunch are over-ripe. We decided to peel and freeze (or sometimes freeze with the skin on) these bananas for later use in smoothies. Now we never waste a banana and on occasion look forward to finding them over-ripened.
Share food with others. This activity is not only fun, but it can reduce waste.
Here are some examples of pages on this site that provide information on avoiding food waste:
1) by proper storage and wrapping 2) by understanding “sell by” and “use by” dates:
“It Says ‘Use by Tomorrow,’ but You Don’t Have to”
“Do Food Product Dates Make Consumers Safer or Just Poorer?”
“Leftover Fruit and Veggies? Dehydrate Them for Surprisingly Healthy Snacks” http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/leftover-fruit-and-veggies-dehydrate-them-surprisingly-healthy-snacks
“How to Wrap Foods for the Freezer”
For instructions on calibrating your food thermometer, click here: http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/thermometers-two-types-every-kitchen-should-have
If you’re interested in purchasing a wireless food thermometer with an alarm, click here:
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Taylor-Commercial-Wireless-Thermometer/13143031?ci_sku=13143031&ci_src=14110944&sourceid=1500000000000003260370 or http://www.amazon.com/Maverick-Industries-ET-901-Wireless-Thermometer/dp/B000FADA48
Timothy J. Bowser, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University, Dept. of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering
Digitaljournal.com “Value of American food waste greater than offshore reserves”