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- Answer Key to “How Much Do You Know about Safe Handling of Food?”
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- Sudden, Awful Intestinal Distress--Is it the Flu or a Foodborne Illness--or Both?
- What YOU Can Do to Avoid Food-borne Illness
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- Are stores required, by law, to remove outdated items from their shelves?
- Do most consumers actually pay attention to the dating on foods?
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- Is information on food longevity and safety available by phone?
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- 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?
- When to Throw Food Out? Not on the Use-By Date
- Who establishes these product dates?
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- 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
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- How Long Will They REALLY Last? Part I: Non-perishables
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- Is It Safe? Is It Nutritious? More Survey Answers from Scientists
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- Winter Food Storage—Can I leave It in the Car or in the Garage?
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- 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?
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- 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
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- 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?
- Can Science and Technology Help You Save Food Dollars?
- FAQs Answered By Our Board Scientists: on Chickens, Bananas, Old Salad Dressing, and More
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- FAQs about Products We Use with Food
- 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
- Missing Chickens: Where Have All the Small Ones Gone?
- Nine FAQs about Food Labels
- Quiz Yourself! Check Your Knowledge about Food Temperatures
- Scientists Answer Two FAQs about Egg Safety
- Should Sour Cream and Cottage Cheese Be Stored Upside Down?
- Some Shelf Life Info, General and Specific (Spirits, Defrosted Veggies, Green Tea, and More)
- Syrup from a Tree or from a Lab--Which Should You Pour on Your Pancakes?
- Ten FAQs about the Prickly Pineapple
- What's New in Food? IFT Expo Offers Tasty Innovations
- What's on the Menu in Cuba?
- What’s in My Water? Answers to FAQs
- What will you be dining on this year? Here are predictions from folks in the know
- 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
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- 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
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- Meet Your Beef--Via Bar Code Info
- Organic Food, GMOs, the Safety of American Food, the Value of Use-By Dates, and More--Scientists Tell Us What They Think
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- New Year’s Resolutions For a Safer Kitchen
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- Tips on Keeping Your Summer Fruits Flavorful and Healthy
- Shelf Life Tips
- A Food App You're Apt to Like; A Brand-New Invention for Getting Shelf-Life Information
- Battling the Ripening of Bananas
- Food Preservation--Low-tech Past, High-Tech Present and Future
- From Purchase to Storage, Tips on Extending Shelf Life
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New Uses for Old Food: Try 'Em Out!
Those eggs have been residing in your fridge for a couple of months. Throw them out? Not necessarily. Instead, you could use them to condition your hair and/or give yourself a facial. Read on for many more suggestions about what you can do with food besides eating it.
ShelfLifeAdvice.com doesn’t guarantee all these tips will work. They’re collective wisdom gleaned from many sources. Some are science; others are folk remedies, but that doesn’t mean they won’t do the job. Please give some a try. We’d love to hear which ones work for you, which don’t, and what other alternative uses you’ve discovered for food.
Of course, these suggestions could also be tried with brand-new food purchases. But the greater surge of satisfaction comes from either 1) using expired food in new ways; or 2) saving money by substituting an inexpensive edible (say, vinegar, oatmeal, eggs, or salt) for a more costly product to beautify skin, repair furniture, unglue gum, or treat an itch. If both 1 and 2 above apply, that doubles the pleasure.
Okay, here are the claims for alternative food uses:
APPLES: This one is pretty well-known. When placed in a closed bag with other fruit, an apple will help speed up the ripening of the other items.
BANANAS: The inside of the peel can be used to polish leather shoes, remove warts (after several weeks of treatment), tenderize a roast (by adding banana peel to the pan), and clean the leaves of household plants.
BEER: Beer, by itself, is an excellent hair conditioner. (Use warm beer, leave it on for ½ hour, rinse.) Mixed with a raw egg, it will give your hair added body. Some beer left in glasses after a party? Pour it into your plants; they’ll thrive on the yeast.
BREAD: Cookies dried out? When tightly closed with a slice of still-moist bread, those cookies will absorb some of the bread’s moisture and soften. Bread can also keep brown sugar soft.
CARROTS: Here’s a reversal: a carrot placed in the bag will help to soften dry bread.
COFFEE GROUNDS: Put them in the ground. Their acidic content makes that a great addition to the soil for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, and blueberries.
COLA: It can clean battery terminals, loosen rust on nuts and bolts, remove grime from the windshield, prolong the life of flowers, and clear up a slow drain. Coca-Cola (not Pepsi) in the wash can remove the odor of diesel.
CUCUMBERS: Here are just some of the seemingly endless uses for cucumbers: rejuvenate the skin, treat a sunburn, eliminate bad breath, defog the bathroom window, polish shoes, clean stainless steel, and erase pen or crayon marks.
EGGS: The yolks are a good hair conditioner. The whites (mixed with a little lemon and honey) become a great facial mask. (Leave on for 20 minutes.) If you have kids, you may need your egg whites to remove gum from fabrics.
HONEY: The curative power of honey has been known for thousands of years. Apply honey to small cuts to fight off bacteria and fungus.
KETCHUP: It’s not easy being green, so if your bleached hair has turned green from the swimming pool chlorine, massage ketchup into it, leave on for 15 minutes, and wash out.
LEMON: Remove sticky foods from surfaces by rubbing them with the pulp side of a cut lemon. Use lemon juice to whiten fingernails. Give your hair blonde highlights with the following mixture: ¼ cup lemon juice and ¾ cup water used as a rinse after shampooing. Finally, benefit from its properties as an insect repellent by applying it to your skin before a summer barbeque or bike ride.
MARSHMALLOWS: Another suggestion for keeping brown sugar from hardening: add a few marshmallows to the bag. (If it’s already hard, see the ShelfLifeAdvice.com Q/A on softening.)
MAYONNAISE: On the body, it can be a treatment for sunburn or a conditioner for hair (when mixed with baking soda). Around the house, use it to clean piano keys or remove water stains on wood furniture.
MILK: If you opened the carton more than a week ago, it may not taste good anymore. However, it will shine patent leather shoes and may remove ink stains from clothing if the clothes are soaked in it awhile. And here’s an odd suggestion: you can seal fine cracks in china by boiling the damaged dishware in milk and letting it simmer for 45 minutes.
OATMEAL: Doctors sometimes recommend treating the itch of poison ivy, chicken pox, eczema, shingles, or insect bites by soaking in an oatmeal bath. You can buy a commercially-prepared product to make the bath for about $6, but you can make your own for about $1. Google “oatmeal bath” for instructions.
OLIVE OIL: Among other uses are these: Use it to give someone you love a massage, keep cuticles from drying out, polish wood furniture, give yourself a facial, unstick a zipper (apply with a q-tip), and/ or remove oil-based paint.
ONIONS: Another way to stop an itchy mosquito bite: put a slice of raw onion on top of it. Also, paint odor can be removed by placing half an onion at each end of the room. It will absorb the odor. No, your room will not smell oniony either.
PEPPER: Websites galore suggest powdered cayenne pepper (and sometimes black pepper) as a way to stop bleeding—external and internal. (Externally, just pour it on. For internal bleeding, 1 tablespoon in a cup of water is recommended.) Yet other links advise treating colds, stomach ulcers, and arthritis with pepper. One site recommends pepper on an animal’s bandage to keep the animal from chewing off the bandage and chewing on the wound.
PEANUT BUTTER: It comes highly recommended for many uses including these: removing crayon from wallpaper, stopping hiccups, cleaning furniture, removing tar and chewing gum, and polishing stainless steel. What else? It’s also recommended for shaving or moisturizing the skin.
POTATO: This is an oldie but still a goodie. When cut in half, a potato is ideal for removing a broken light bulb from a socket. Grated potato is also recommended to cool down a sunburn.
SALT: Use it to remove red wine stains from your carpet and the scent of onions from your hands. If you drop an egg on the floor, pouring salt on the mess makes it easier to clean up.
TABASCO SAUCE® (a blend of red pepper, vinegar, and salt): A few drops in warm water will give you a good cleaner for silver. About 5 drops on an aching tooth can numb the pain.
TEA: Puffy around the eyes? Use a damp, chilled green tea bag applied directly to the skin to reduce puffiness. Got a small cut? Apply a moistened tea bag to decrease both pain and bleeding.
VINEGAR: Of its many uses, here are just a few: it can remove stubborn stickers when the vinegar is painted on them; it can kill weeds growing between sidewalk cracks when sprayed on full strength; it removes vomit odor from clothing or carpet; it’s an effective treatment for athlete’s foot or nail fungus.
VODKA: Spritz some into your sneakers to get rid of odor-causing bacteria. Vodka has no tell-tale odor itself. It’s also an insect repellent.
Two caveats about these suggestions:
1) If the tip you’re using involves putting the product in contact with food you plan to eat, don’t use long-expired food.
2) Some of the procedures recommended above require patience; it may take time for the product to do its job.
Need details about how to implement one of these tips? Check out the sources below for details.
Beauty Secrets Revealed: Organic Skin Care Blog "Wonderful Skin Benefits of Cucumber"
Chicago Tribune “Surprising uses for ordinary items”
April 18, 2010, p.21.
Chicago Tribune HomeFinder “Extraordinary uses for ordinary items”
Blogs.myspace.com “Other uses for food! Who knew?!? by Ashley Katherin
Nutrition Wonderland “Food as a Household Tool: The Other Uses for Food besides Eating”
Health911.com “Wounds and Cuts: Remedies, Folk”
eHow Blog “How Does Cayenne Pepper Stop Bleeding?”
CureZone.com “Cayenne Pepper medicinal uses…”
Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service: Agriculture and Horiculture News
"The Amazing Cucumber"
HomeFinder “Extraordinary uses for ordinary items”