Most people have food or drinks in their refrigerator that they have forgotten are in there. Whether it is take-out leftovers or fruit that you forgot to eat, having that outdated and spoiled food in your fridge isn't good for you.
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This stuff can contaminate your other foods, making them unsafe to eat and leaving you at risk of food poisoning. At the same time, some foods, such as fruits and vegetables, lose some nutrition as they get older.
By tossing that old stuff from your refrigerator, you keep it clean and sanitary and leave plenty of room to stock it with fresh, healthy foods. It's time to toss the following items from the refrigerator today.
1. Get Rid Of Expired Condiments
Condiments have a pretty long shelf life, but they do expire eventually, so check the dates on the package and toss out anything that has outlived its shelf life. The average refrigerator has a lot of salad dressings, ketchup, mayo, mustard and other sauces that have been sitting there for quite some time.
By finally trashing them all, you can refill your shelves with new items that are fresh and that don't pose the risk of food poisoning.
2. Old Lemons Need To Be Tossed
Most people buy a lemon for a bit of zest or some juice, but since lemons are so affordable, it's easy to buy more than you really need. Chances are that if you take a look in your produce drawer, you have an old lemon lying in there.
It's definitely not a good idea to eat it because it could be crawling with bacteria, and anything resting against a moldy or spoiled lemon will go bad much more quickly.
3. Leftovers Can Be Deadly
Leftovers often go into the fridge, never to be taken out and eaten. That's a problem because those leftovers can give you food poisoning if they've been there longer than they should. Also, leftovers that aren't well-covered can lead to bad smells in your fridge that can make your other foods taste off.
Those expired leftovers can also be spilled, which can contaminate the foods they are spilled onto and can leave you with a big mess to clean up.
4. Look For Old Ginger
Like lemons, fresh ginger is used in very small amounts so you probably buy more than you need and can use. Because pieces of ginger are so small, they can get lost in the bottom of your produce drawer only to be discovered weeks later all shriveled up and mushy.
It's not a good idea to eat the ginger at this stage, even if it still smells and tastes fine because it could make you sick and affect the flavor of the dishes you prepare with it.
5. Throw Away Raw Meats After Two Days
Raw meat keeps a surprisingly short amount of time in the fridge and after that can make you very sick, even if you cook it before you eat it. The food poisoning that you can get from spoiled meats can be very serious, even deadly, so it pays to pay attention to how long ground beef, chicken or fish have been languishing in your refrigerator so that you don't make yourself sick.
If you aren't sure whether you'll eat the meat within two days, put it in the freezer, where it will last for a couple of months before needing to be thrown away.
6. Food Gifts Can Probably Be Tossed
Around the holidays or when you host a gathering at your home, you probably get lots of boutique food gifts. If you don't think you'll ever eat it or you're not even sure how long it's been in your refrigerator, go ahead and throw it out.
It may be expired or have lost its appeal after so long anyway and it might be something you don't even like. Once you have all that off the wall stuff cleared out, you have more room for things you'll actually use and enjoy eating.
7. Slimy Greens Are Trash
No one wants to eat lettuce, spinach, celery or herbs that have become squishy and slimy, so don't let them hog up space in your refrigerator. Not only are they not fit for consumption, but those spoiled greens can affect the quality of your other foods and make them taste funny.
Removing them from your produce drawer preserves your other fruits and vegetables and keeps the mess of liquid waste out of your fridge.
8. Moldy Foods Have Got To Go
It goes without saying that anything moldy needs to be tossed out right away. Anything with mold won't taste good and will make you sick if you eat it. Not only that, but the mold can spread to other foods, spoiling them and resulting in having to throw them away too.
The exception to this rule is hard cheeses. Experts say that you can safely cut the mold from cheese and eat the rest of it.
9. Leftover Rice Is No Good
True, rice has a longer shelf life as leftovers than some other food items, but it gets hard and unappealing after a few days, so it's better to get rid of it and make some room for something that tastes better. Even warmed up, the rice won't be good, so get rid of it and make a new batch. It will taste better, have a more appealing texture and won't make you sick if you eat it.
10. Opened Chicken Broth Is Ready For The Garbage
Chicken broth comes in pretty big boxes and if you don't use it all, you can place the leftovers in the fridge. However, they only stay fresh for a few days, after which they can breed bacteria and pathogens that can make you really sick.
If you don't know how long that chicken broth has been in there, dump it down the drain and get rid of it. Even if you heat it to boiling, the broth can still make you ill and ruin the meal you're preparing.
To ensure healthy, fresh and safe foods, your refrigerator should always be clean and sanitary. When you have old and spoiled foods in there, it simply isn't any of those things.
By clearing out the trash, you have more room for fresh foods and can be sure that each meal you prepare is safe to eat. If you're ever in doubt about a particular food item, including anything that isn't on this list, it's better to be safe and throw it out.
If you feel you have a food-borne illness, seek medical attention right away to reduce the symptoms, ward off dehydration and prevent dangerous health complications. Remember: “when in doubt, throw it out.”